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Having worked live as the Kenneth Kapstad Group, Motorpsycho’s drummer has given this unashamedly jazz-rock orientated quintet a group identity for their recording debut. That’s a good move given the collective heroics that make this such a thrilling album.
Fueled by Ola Kvernberg’s fractious violin, the early Mahavishnu Orchestra influence can’t be ignored on these six raw and heated instrumentals. Alongside Kapstad’s tour-de-force drumming, Trond Frønes’ always potent bass locks-in perfectly to create an intelligent, pressure-sensitive support to Helte Hermansen’s dazzling fretboard excursions and Erlend Slettevoll’s luminous keyboards.
Incorporating folk-rock head-banging (Antics), wry cat-and-mouse dynamics (Clandestine) or rhapsodic duelling (Tachyon), they audaciously marry restless fervour and near-manic energy with seasoned precision and finesse.
What some jazz-rock practitioners forget is that instrumental chops alone aren’t enough to make a good album. 100 mph solos might impress the kids but what you need to make a classic album, and connect on an emotional level, are good old-fashioned tunes. Grand General get the balance between the head and heart of this affair exactly right; pieces you can sing along to and solos that’ll have you wondering what the hell just happened.
This review first appeared in Prog