Major Stars - Motion Set LPLabel: Drag City Records
Screen-printed covers! Heavy guitar psych outta Massachusetts.
"If it seems brighter and a bit more deafening in the world today, congratulations! You’re not dead (yet) and some of your senses are still working. In fact, you might just be perceiving that there’s new Major Stars in the sky—one so formidable it’s already been named, and you haven’t even heard of it until now! Motion Set is the 9th Major Stars LP and their first on Drag City since 2010’s Return to Form, with Decibels of Gratitude appearing in 2012. This has left Starsheads around the world high and decidedly dry; for what reason a four-year gap, they’ve cried, instead of the rather more ideal two-to-three? The answer lies in the very core of the band as they’ve existed from the start: time and space are required to produce the necessary mass to tether their music in this flighty, over-oxygenated atmosphere of ours—and after eight records, it only gets harder to find a combination of possible elements requiring three guitars and a rhythm section in search of the ultimate release with every song they play. Fortunately, Major Stars don’t sell their process until it’s fully melded. C’mon, Wayne Rogers is no Johnny-come-lately to the scene of psychedelic guitar rock. He and Kate Biggar have been crossing axes to head-scrambling effect since the halcyon days of Crystallized Movements, in the galaxy far, far away we now call the 80s. In the 90s came collaboration with Damon & Naomi in Magic Hour and Wayne Rogers solo records, before the debut of Major Stars at Terrastock ’97—the first of several appearances they eventually made at the now- defunct (and legendary) trips fest. As the years have passed, the band has evolved necessarily in their own expanding universe; since 2005, the Biggar/Rogers guitar duo has become a guitar trio, with original bassist Tom Leonard contributing to the murder of decibels. Vocally as well, Wayne’s lead vocs have given way to a string of she-singers who have brought new dimensions to the the sound. The finding of Major Stars material relies more on a feeling than anything else—intuition vs. accumulated knowledge, the years of process informing but never overwhelming the delightful pull of the knee-jerk if it is meant to be. As far as language is concerned, English barely cuts it! Writing for sextet involves greater complexity in the arranging of parts, but after that, there’s loads of playing and playing and letting go and seeing what that sounded like—an assembly process akin to working with play- doh in a room with no lights on. Every Major Stars record responds in one way or another to the one before, and to that end, Motion Set commenced with a blackout-and- start-again moment: the pulsing energy of “Alert,” with a view towards making more super-happy, short blues rock songs. Of course, things happen along the assembly line; the title track was played for over two years and thrown away at least once before revisitation, revitalization and recording finally happened. Now, stripped down to a mood and built back to a towering frenzy, it’s the kind of song to name an album after. In a band built to achieve moments of six-string nirvana, vocalist Hayley Thompson-King provides a sufficiently versatile presence to span the crunching, ever-spiraling trinity of Biggar, Leonard and Rogers; with sirenesque flights, a reedy, Nico-like introspection and gritty, pugnacious flourishes to match the full complement of riffs being flung about. And thus, four years in the locaing—Motion Set. Major Stars have been capturing and distilling lightning into bottles for a couple of decades, with each record reaching beyond what they know and delighting in what feels good to locate their desire for exploration, obliteration and rock in the present moment. Motion Set nullifies the past while standing on its vanishing shoulders, reaching ever beyond."