[sic] Magazine

Motion Turns It On – Kaleidoscopic Equinox

See me? I like a bit of weirdness and chaos in my music now and then.

See you? I’m going to tell you about some music of that very sort right now.

So, young feller-me-lad/lass…slip off that dolphin-skin windcheater, roll yourself a gibbon and park yourself on this bed of nails (£149.99 in the Habitat sale) whilst I elucidate (and if that offends your sensibilities, just look away for a moment…OK…nearly there…give it a bit of a shake…hoo…all done…it’s the tablets, I swear to God).

I’ve been tasked by young Brettles to review ‘Kaleidoscopic Equinox’ , the new album by Texas sons Motion Turns It On. He knows I listen to and collect some reet weird gear, tha’ knows, and chose to feed my inner beast with this album.

Unwittingly, he’s relinquished the command to me of the review of possibly the second best album of the year thus far (it’s November people…let’s face it…there ain’t gonna be many more contenders…not unless the Nolan Sisters pull one out of the bag (if you’ll excuse the euphemism (hold on…I’m getting lost in a bracket loop here (or should that be a bracket maze? A bracket whirlpool? Who knows? Oh, wait…here comes a right-hander to save the day) but now I see either see daylight or a blazing effigy of Nick Griffin, guiding me to salvation) so I think I’m pretty safe as far as that claim goes (you still with me, gentle reader?)).

I have a marked absence of supporting promotional blurb from Chocolate Lab Records for MTIO (see how familiar I’m being with them? I just don’t care, me…a real renegade), so I’ve been forced to go looking on the web to glean any information I might wish, in turn, to furnish you with.

Motion Turns It On hail from the aforementioned Texas (Houston to be exact), where the band started life in 2004 as a four piece (drums, bass, keyboards, guitar) and produced their debut effort, namely the critically-acclaimed five-track EP ‘Rima’. In a somewhat evasive piece of biographical fudging, their website merely says “fast forward to 2009”, where we find MTIO as a trio, devoid of bassist (the space left by the absence of that instrument filled by what sounds like some startlingly adroit keyboard playing) and holding aloft their new album ‘Kaleidoscopic Equinox’.

This album is akin to the bastard offspring of Mothers Of Invention-era Zappa and Daevid Allen-era Gong, with some of the more bizarre qualities of Mahavishnu heaped on top of the sensibilities of dance-proggers Ozric Tentacles and with a curt nod in the direction of those kings of organised chaos, Broken Social Scene.
You can tell I’m having problems trying to draw you a comparison here, gentle reader. ‘Tis always the case with me when something so unusual and unique reaches my hot ‘n’ sweaty.

The general sound of MTIO is dense; no big, empty spaces here, not even an approximation of space, save for the last track ‘Sinking Suns’ – and even then, the boys have a distinctly full soundstage up for grabs. Not much in the way of quiet reflection, either (again, the last track is the exception). Full throttle is de rigeur.
“For Cliff’s sake, Lawton,” I can hear you muttering into your mashed apple and warm milk,”You’re surely onto your second page already, if you’re using MS Word, your font is Calibri with the font size set to 11” (for you are such intuitive readers, even given your problem that the special brain medicine can’t quite put right) “and you’ve yet to tell us what genre this music slips into!”

As Shakespeare would have put it with a tub of Vick’s hoving into view…“There’s the rub”.

Thankfully, Motion Turns It On is one of those wonderful bands operating outside of the confines of genre. If memory serves me correctly (i.e. from the left, not getting too familiar during the soup course and with the faintest suggestion of late-night, inappropriate touching behind the dustbins), their label describes them as “psychedelic jazz post-rock”.

Meh…yes and no.

Psychedelic? Indeed…the Gong reference above is strikingly clear, in spirit if not in execution. Jazz? Certainly – Andres Londono’s keyboards are unmistakeably hewn from the darkest, most acidic cheese-nightmares of Chick Corea and Mike Ratledge, while Bill Kenny’s guitar work could be Django Reinhardt in the midst of recuperating from a mushroom-heavy diet. Post-rock (I hate that term) is well represented here, although you shouldn’t be expecting any of the sweeping, steadily-building grandeur of Godspeed or Explosions In The Sky.

No, my children – what you have here is some remarkable music from three remarkable musicians, played at something approaching light-speed, as dense as the contents of a politician’s skull and with all the delicacy of a pre-emptive nuclear strike. This is not to say that ‘Kaleidoscope Equinox’ is a note-fest with no form; there are some wonderful chord-sequences here, intricate and breathtaking musicianship, fragments of dance-inspired electronica, layers of mashed and mangled vocals and a host of stealthy, electro-influenced grooves falling like monsoon rain from the sonic heavens.

Favourite track? It’s playing now as I type – ‘Lo Pido Con Piedad’. It’s jazz-rock, it’s dance, it’s post-rock…it’s simply a joyous juggernaut that you’ll never want to run out of steam. Quite wonderful.

But enough of my ramblings. You’ll have things to do. Just get a hold of this album and let it get a hold of you.