A1 “Solar Motel Part One” 11:41
A2 “Solar Motel Part Two” 10:07
B1 “Solar Motel Part Three” 12:17
B2 “Solar Motel Part Four” 7:25
Paradise of Bachelors is pleased to present Chris Forsyth’s Solar Motel, an immersive four-part suite that reimagines and reanimates the collected history of guitar-driven rock, lighting out for fresh territory in the process. The arrestingly evocative album navigates new vibe channels among the classic guitar/groove thickets of Television, the Dead, Sonic Youth, the Doors, Eno/Cale combos, et al., featuring important contributions from a crack studio band (Mike Pride on drums, Peter Kerlin on bass, and Shawn Edward Hansen on keys/synths) and co-producer Jeff Zeigler (Kurt Vile, etc.) Solar Motel—named for a derelict and now vanished New Jersey lodge—completes Forsyth’s alchemical transformation from a guitarist renowned for his nuanced playing in varied experimental and post-American Primitive circles into a full-fledged deconstructivist rock and roll bandleader producing unabashedly ambitious, ecstatic body music.
As critic Tony Rettman explains, “Solar Motel is broken up into four parts, each one of them escalating in sequence with head-swelling psychedelic bliss while showcasing Forsyth’s equal admiration for the guitar interplay of both Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd from Television and Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead. It serves as a perfect example for what Forsyth calls his music: Cosmic Americana.” The Philadelphia-based Forsyth will be touring the record with the stellar new Solar Motel Band, which includes bassist Kerlin, guitarist Paul Sukeena (Spacin’), drummer Steven Urgo (ex-The War on Drugs), and an accompanying album-length video by artist Maria Dumlao (also the source of the album’s striking cover art.)
Forsyth’s hypnotic recordings assimilate art-rock textures with vernacular American influences. Long active in the international underground, he’s released a series of acclaimed records as a solo artist that demonstrate a resolute engagement in making corporeal/cerebral music that transcends such subterranean realms, reaching instead for a bleeding-edge physicality and lyricism heavily influenced by his private studies with Television’s Richard Lloyd. The fascinating tension manifest in Forsyth’s playing between often long-form, rarefied abstraction and percolating rhythms and rock/roots structures animates notable recent works such as his 2011 LP Paranoid Cat (rated a “kinetic masterpiece” by Pitchfork) and Early Astral, a 2012 duo LP with Koen Holtkamp of Mountains (memorably characterized by one unnamed record exec as “’80’s Garcia jamming at Epcot.”)
His 2012 Kenzo Deluxe LP has been described by Aquarium Drunkard as “sublime”; the Philadelphia City Paper deems it “resonant [and] incisive… a cosmic abstraction of the American guitar tradition, reducing blues, rock, folk and improvisation into their spare, hypnotic base elements.” The Wire praises Forsyth as “an erudite and farsighted guitar stylist, mapping a path that’s hip and scholarly in equal measure.” Uncut calls him “an emergent master.”
Forsyth has toured throughout Europe and the U.S., sharing stages with such like-minded travellers as fellow PoB artist Steve Gunn, Sic Alps, Endless Boogie, Grouper, Loren Connors, William Tyler, and Rhys Chatham, and, from 2002 to 2011, as a member of Peeesseye. He’s also collaborated with a diverse range of artists including singer and songwriter Meg Baird, Japanese guitarist/boogie master Tetuzi Akiyama, trumpeter Nate Wooley, and choreographer Miguel Gutierrez, and is a recipient of a 2011 Pew Fellowship in the Arts.
- Forsyth’s most ambitious, immersive, & sublime work of “Cosmic Americana” to date, featuring a full band
- Available on 150g virgin vinyl, in a deluxe, gatefold limited edition, as well as on CD and digital formats
- Vinyl edition includes digital download coupon
* Recognized as one of the best albums of 2013 by The New Yorker, Uncut, Aquarium Drunkard, and Popmatters, among others.
The album is some kind of masterpiece, a four-part suite of ecstatic, spiritual psychedelia that splits the difference between unabashed classic rock thrills and a spikey avant garde sense of adventure. Try to imagine Television circa 1977 recording a cover of Pharoah Sanders’ “The Creator Has A Master Plan” and you’re halfway there. It’s an ambitious approach that not many players could pull off, but Forsyth does it with the ease and dynamism of a virtuoso. His tones shimmer and shatter, resonating beautifully from moment to moment. As great a guitarist as he is, however, Forsyth’s real strength might lie in the architectural nature of his songwriting, as he and his band patiently build up majestic sound structures, only to gleefully demolish them in bursts of cacophony. And then they do it all over again.
- Tyler Wilcox, Aquarium Drunkard
9/10. It’s a fierce, exploratory record that sounds, in a way, like an instrumental sequel to Television’s Marquee Moon. Forsyth understands how to elevate mathematical riffing with lyrical flourishes and buried echoes of folk motifs. As a whole, it’s brilliant… Intergalactic glossolalia. Behold: the darkness doubles!
- Alastair McKay, Uncut
Chris Forsyth’s Solar Motel deconstructs the guitar jam from rock music — Television, Grateful Dead, Sonic Youth, The Doors — with full band in tow. Like the true roots of rock ‘n’ roll, Solar Motel has a distinct sense of full-body movement, but pursues the unknown rhythms of the rabbit hole instead of dancing around it.
- Lars Gotrich, NPR Music
Next level… Betrays an innate grasp of the serpentine structures and elevated duels that were integral to Television’s appeal. “Solar Motel Part II” emerges out of a raga and a bit of downtown firefight into the sort of face-off you imagine Verlaine and Lloyd – at least secretly – would be proud of. Heavy, throbbing hints of Glenn Branca underpin the jams, and the slide section being matched to a piano break conjures up a further relationship with The Allman Brothers. “Solar Motel Part IV” comes on like a particularly gnarly take on “Dark Star”, or one of those Dead-derived Sonic Youth epics like “Hits Of Sunshine”. Can’t recommend this enough, as you might have divined by now. I’m struggling to think of a live band I’d like to see more right now.
- John Mulvey, Uncut
Solar Motel, despite the single location of its title, is a restless yet purposeful expanse of sound. It’s an impressive, endlessly playful, and arena-sized exploration of all the moods and textures rock music can fit under its umbrella. An exploration of rock and roll guitar history… by turns fragile and explosive, the sound of a band wandering out into the desert to try and fill up the entire night with sound and succeeding. It’s not the first time Forsyth has wowed us with his ambition, but that the players around him match it makes this a new twist on his sound, one you’ll come back to time and time again, if only to hear what you missed last time.
- Matthew Fiander, PopMatters
Heavy psychedelic stuff. It’s a robust album, prone to multiple minutes of knotted guitars, stumbling over each other to disorienting effect. It’s close to transcendent.
- Sam Hockley-Smith, The Fader
Escalating in sequence with head-swelling psychedelic bliss while showcasing Forsyth’s equal admiration for the guitar interplay of both Verlaine & Lloyd from Television & Garcia & Weir of the Grateful Dead. It serves as a perfect example for what Forsyth calls his music: Cosmic Americana.
- Tony Rettman, Philadelphia Weekly
Each tune builds to meticulously wrought, transcendent climaxes that bring to mind Tom Verlaine’s solo albums (or at least the good parts.) In concert, this music explodes with the same sort of explosive, self-righting chaos that you can find on Television’s bootlegs. [The album’s] precisely arranged layers of keyboards and guitars have as many behind-the-door delights as an advent calendar.
- Bill Meyer, The Wire
It’s safe to say that the most glorious electric guitar record of the year is Chris Forsyth’s stupendous Solar Motel. The album calls to mind a dream team of six-string mavericks — Garcia, Verlaine/Lloyd, Thompson, Quine and plenty more.
- Aquarium Drunkard
Across numerous albums and collaborations with the likes of Loren Connors and Mountains’ Koen Holtkamp, dude has spent the past decade funneling minimalist abstraction, post-American Primitive folk and well-tread rock & roll tropes into an idiosyncratic tunefulness all his own. He even studied with Television axe-grinder Richard Lloyd for a time, which I think may partly explain some of the tight, economical phrasing on “Solar Motel,” layering together a series of repetitious note combinations until all that geometric simplicity suddenly tips over into something very wide-open and grand.
- Emilie Friedlander, The Fader
With some serious Television riffage and Grateful Dead grooving, Forsyth’s sets a down a blanket of the familar on which to throw his picnic of The Now. Just because it sounds like rock and roll doesn’t mean that it can’t be forward-thinking– what we’re witnessing here is a rejiggering of rock from the entire spectrum of the ’70s. Classic rock vernacular is stretched over common idioms of krautrock: a meditative beat, focused psychedelia, modest shredding complicit in complex, band-wide polyphony. So yeah, this is actually a lot like The Dead, on second thought.
- Mike Sugarman, Ad Hoc
Searingly intense, psychedelic guitar explorations. These are not aimless jams. They do, however, mine infinite possibilities in cross-genre pollinating and almost telepathic interplay between musicians.
- Michael Pelusi, Philadelphia Citypaper
Guitar wizard Chris Forsyth has put out a steady stream of fine releases over the past couple of years, but he has unleashed a total monster here. Solar Motel seamlessly veers between experimental improvising and ecstatic psychedelic noise rock. It sounds like a fusion of the Grateful Dead and the Byrds in highest flight. Sort of like a giant Interstellar Overdrive for this generation, it feels like a major breakout record for Chris.
- Was Ist Das
I feel like Chris is going to make his life about trying to get inside the guitar. He’s trying to conquer it, but he respects it as an opponent.
- Adam Granduciel, The War on Drugs
Existing somewhere between ambient guitar excess and classic rock boogie, the four-part suite moves with an elegant ferocity. Droning riffs build slowly into full-tilt shred-storms as organs pierce and the rhythm section rumbles. It falls comfortably within rock ‘n’ roll’s most accepted territories, but it pushes at the boundaries, delighting in giving familiar sounds a new purpose. Put simply, it feels like a classic.
- Jordan Lawrence, Blurt
Start with the closeout solo of Television’s “Marquee Moon”; add some of the sun-scorched improvisation of Live-Evil, jazzy post-rock stylings of the late great Pele, and the dirty fuzzed out loops of Dirty Three; bake on medium heat for 41 minutes. Consume as often as possible.
- Jordan Mainzer, Frontier Psychiatrist
Alongside Steve Gunn, William Tyler, and Cian Nugent, Philadelphia’s Chris Forsyth was at the front of the pack, parlaying his old studies with Richard Lloyd into a suite of jams that captured the elevated spirit of the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers, and Glenn Branca, as well as that of Television and Marquee Moon.
- Uncut, #40 Record of 2013
I (like to) think of this album as what dear old Sterling Morrison might have made if he were still alive and had he stayed active with music rather than setting sail on that tugboat for some time. This is almost anti-guitar hero stuff. Solar Motel is fabulous, building on other great records from a prolific, engaging player. It just feels like the best realisation of his aims, the best achievement to date. There’s such a feeling of control around what he’s doing here, treating the guitar as meditational device, allowing it to circle and glide, to hold on and then show some tricks just when needed. Solar Motel feels like a record that might – in the scheme of this type of music -go down as an understated masterpiece; one for guitarists to seek inspiration from, one for listeners to fall under its spell.
- Off the Tracks (NZ)
From classic rock wailing to prog-rock meandering to creative indie-rock, this one has plenty of textures brewing, with a constant influx of sonic surprises.
- Tom Haugen, In Forty
He’s an assimilator, a torchbearer for traditions that he’s happy to mix and warp and pick apart, always with his influences close at hand and his eyes somewhere further down the road. Solar Motel fits well at the end of a branch of American guitar’s towering family tree.
An erudite and farsighted guitar stylist, mapping a path that’s hip and scholarly in equal measure.
- The Wire
An emergent master.
A gravity-defying, multi-headed, electric guitar-worshipping hydra. The alchemy between these players cannot be overstated.
- Max Burke, Ad Hoc
Hooks, moody ebbs and moments of arena rock wailing are mixed in well with plenty of experimental and noise-rock ideas, as his sometimes improvisational songs bring to mind both Lou Reed and Jerry Garcia. This is the kind of album that musicians drool over and casual listeners are initially perplexed by, though that quickly turns to intrigue.
- Tom Haugen, New Noise Magazine
All of the good stuff is in here somewhere: the timeless craftsmanship of theGrateful Dead or Neil Young and Crazy Horse, the deftly repetitious explorations of Popol Vuh, the cosmic explosions of Spacemen 3, and the chunky, simmering melisma of Tinariwen, just to name a few from the potentially infinite list. No matter how people feel about guitars this week, Solar Motel will be around to eschew reductive categories and make a better case for the universal appeal of skill colliding with energy.