Many Ways Around the Sun
Tim Motzer’s Many Ways Around the Sun is a true solo album with the multi-instrumentalist who has made nine solo soundscape albums now adding vocals to his compositions for the first time. Playing mellotron, guitars, bass, prophet synth, optigan, wood flute, cymbals, drums, reed organ, electronics, drum machine, and toy keyboards, he creates ethereal, lush, effects that are by turns psychedelic, futuristic, and cosmic. Yet, they are all mixed in service to the song. Some use reference points such as The Flaming Lips or the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour, but the scope is wide. Although he is appearing on the progressive label Ropeadope, known mostly for jazz, contemporary R&B, and hip-hop, this project leans more toward indie pop and is themed on messages of hope and love.
Aside from his nine solo albums, Motzer has been an in-demand session musician of the first order with credits on over 100 albums. Notably, his cinematic mastery led to features in Miami Vice, True Blood, and several independent films. He is also a touring musician, as he co-leads the trio Bandit65 with guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel and drummer Gintas Janusonis. A pioneer in the independent artist space, Tim has released an eclectic array of over 50 musical projects under his 1k Recordings imprint.
The opening “Deeper Than Anything” begins with an atmospheric background, punctuated with a few percussive crashes before Motzer enters with voice shrouded in this electronic mist encased by superbly layered vocal backgrounds. The chugging rhythm builds in intensity to the strains of “who we are.” “The Longest Day” is sparser, with piano backing his prominently mixed vocal in a beautiful McCartney-esque melody with phrases such as “bathed in sunshine.” Wave-like psychedelic effects color “You Are, You Are” which seques seamlessly into “Let Love Open Your Heart,” another that carries Beatles-like strains. Already, in these first four tracks, we appreciate Motzer’s adept use of echo effects.
“Always Somehow,” even with its insistent percussive beat, remains mostly dreamy, dissolving into the more mysterious instrumentally rendered “Tokyo Dream Time,” which has some industrial-like effects and an inventive merging of Eastern and Western motifs. Some may tire of the idealistic messaging embodied in titles such as “Only Love Can Save This World” and many similar lyrics throughout yet, in another way, those seemingly trite themes fit well with psychedelia. That’s the context we first heard them in anyway, right? “So Long” sounds like a voice booming across a mountain valley, only to look up and see a figure atop the rocks speaking into a megaphone but closer listening reveals a skittering beat and some adventurous guitar work. The drone-like title track is the ‘trippiest’ one here while the closer “Lessons in Life” reads like a straight-ahead folk song with Motzer’s, smooth, melodic, engaging vocal in the forefront.
Grab your headphones and delve in. A veritable potpourri of sounds awaits.
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