Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band | photo by Kait Privatera | courtesy of the artist
Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band to share their Experience at PhilaMOCA
Each Sunday this past October, Philly guitar-slinger Chris Forsyth and his Solar Motel Band – a quartet first assembled as a touring unit for Forsyth’s thusly titled 2013 opus – held court in the back room at Ortlieb’s, throwing down a weekly dose of delirious, heavy-riffing psych-rock ruckus that made them, for that one month at least, the best bar band in town.It was a celebration, not least, of the group’s then-forthcoming second full-length, the recording sessions for which wrapped the same month, with ample foretastes of the righteous grooves and searing dual guitar leads it held in store.Now that – as of early March – that album has been fully unveiled (via local stalwart No Quarter records), more celebrating seems to be in order: hence, Saturday’s hometown record release party at PhilaMOCA.
The record in question, The Rarity of Experience – or, as the elegantly tripped-out, screaming-out-for-vinyl-scale gatefold package design has it, The Rarity of Experience I & II – is the sort of self-consciously stylized double album that comes on two CDs even when it would easily fit on one, with precisely the sort of expansive musical sprawl (and conceptual twinning of distinct, well-balanced halves) that fully justifies that decision.
Part I opens in forceful, Zeppelin-esque fashion with not one but two (er, II) aptly-titled “Anthems” before launching into the dual title tracks – both knotty groovers featuring Forsyth’s terse, half-spoken vocals (a rarity, indeed, for this hitherto instrumental-only outfit) – and peaks with the majestically roiling, previously aired ten-minute standout “High Castle Rock” – this album’s clearest nod to the group’s oft-noted precursors Television (whose Richard Lloyd, incidentally, turned up at one of those October Ortliebs throwdowns.)
Part II, no less epic after its fashion, forms the relatively restrained, ruminative counterpart to I’s blistering abandon, drafting in free-jazzer Daniel Carter for some horn-abetted headiness while making good on the band’s “cosmic Americana” tag with a pair of spacious, folk-tinged near-ambient offerings and a reverent long-form take on Richard Thompson’s “Calvary Cross.”
It’s all over in just under seventy-five minutes – taut enough that they could, in theory, pack the whole thing into Saturday night’s record release celebration at PhilaMOCA – but there’s more than enough starry-eyed, fever-dream transcendence in there to hold you for a month of Sundays.
Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band perform at PhilaMOCA on Saturday, March 26th. Tickets and more information about the show can be found here.