Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band
Dreaming in the Non-Dream
No fan of the small gesture, Chris Forsyth and his bustling Solar Motel Band come blazing into the room on their new record with a nearly twelve-minute opener entitled “History & Science Fiction.” The sentiment seems to be: “I bring the ideas and the sounds, you do with it what you want.” History and sci-fi, dreaming and non-dreaming, mistaking the bottle for the whiskey—recurring yin-yang themes that populate most of this album.
Forsyth is one of many guitar journeymen out in the wild trying to forge some new kind of music out of the scraps of Marquee Moon and the wandering way in which Richard Thompson played with Fairport Convention. But there’s something more raw and off-the-cuff in his expositions, and it is especially noticeable here. He has been working this out for several years now, most notably on the exploratory The Rarity of Experience last year. That album was a bewitching, hard-driving rock record that excelled at a breeze-blown combo of Canned Heat and Neu!
Dreaming in the Non-Dream continues that drive, but also escalates it. On the vocal track “Have We Mistaken the Bottle for the Whiskey Inside?” Forsyth has a snarling edge to his vocal, in the Lou Reed–meets–Spacemen 3, aloof-but-knowing style. Other moments on the album have a metallic sheen (not metal the genre so much as metal the material) that feels more like elongated and brittle post-punk than any pastoral driving music.
But those are just moments. The above mentioned “History & Science Fiction” comes in with cowbells a’clangin’ but it too breaks down mid-song and develops into a slower, elegiac burn. No surprise to learn this LP was a post-election session. It’s the product of an intense, overdub-free zone that was recorded and mixed in just four days; it’s a raw, jittery record with areas of serenity. Overall, the infinitely far horizon is what Forsyth and Co. seem to be heading toward, but now the world they’re illuminating is one that is fraught with unease and a search for some kind of exhilaration.