Møster’s namesake and bandleader is Kjetil Møster, a saxophonist who elsewhere plays with Zanussi Five and Grand General. The latter formerly traded under the name Kenneth Kapstad Group, and Kapstad (better known as drummer in Motorpsycho) returns the favour here, drumming alongside bassist Nikolai Eilertsen.
This album is significantly different to Møster’s debut, Edvard Lygre Møster (Hubro, 2013), on which everyone except Kapstad doubled up on electronics. Here there are no electronics or keyboards: Motorpsycho guitarist Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan steps in, substituting for the Fender Rhodes and Moog of Ståle Storløkken. But, oddly enough, the group sound that, in describing the first album, I had pegged as “ad-hoc contemporary power-Prog, with funk and dub grits”, is now distinctly proggier.
The album is best heard in one sitting, in its programmed sequence, but it is very much a work of two halves.
The first piece is an atmospheric instrumental odyssey in four parts titled “Descending Into This Crater”. Although divided into four titled indexes of around five minutes apiece, it plays as one piece. Ironically, most of it is purely atmospheric/textural, and though the ingredients (smears of guitar, saxophonic plosives and shimmering gongs) can be sifted, the moody, coagulant soundscape often sounds purely electronic. Eilertsen’s usual elasticity is treacly here, binding the other elements together.
The second and third movements of Descending…” shift from spaced out, on “Central Sunrise”, to shimmering guitar sustain over portentously slow drums, on the intro to “Magma Movement”, and then a gravid swell into slow-bleed blues on “Mount Vesuvio”. The gradual yielding of Ryan’s otherwise excoriating slow-mo guitar to Møster’s brooding sax is beautifully done on this piece, and the suite’s final moments swell ominously, only for the expected eruption to be negated by the accumulated grinding weight of the collective performance.
“Tearatorn” (14:12) starts at mid tempo, and gets worked up with an implicitly rhythmic but prickly bed of staccato stabs and smears, before suddenly becoming anthemic with the tightening of Kapstad’s beats and the imposition by Møster, on stentorian, low-register sax, of a punchily melodic theme. An accelerating passage for guitar trio, with Ryan unleashed and Eilertsen laying down a rich sediment of bass grind, then breaks into a freer solo sax interlude over exploded polyrhythmic drumming.
When Eilertsen and Kapstad next lock together their renewed impetus is irresistible, elastic, thrumming powerfully and heading for a controlled climax. Eilertsen is vital, consolidating the group’s drive at higher tempos, and adding to the horizontal pressure of slower movements with sustained tones. In the front line, Møster and Ryan get the balance of self-effacement and extroversion just right, soloing freely but always, obviously, with the contours of the group performance in mind.
The last remaining track is “Underworld Risk” (07:37), which has the rhythm section working up a high-tempo groove, raked by Ryan’s guitar, and with Møster bleating a pinched one-note refrain. Eilertsen’s bass seethes, and finally stokes the group into an eruption of collective riffing on Møster’s skeleton melody The performance has more concentrated fury than the prog rock of old, but there are traces here of “20th Century Man” and the vitriol of Van der Graaf’s “Scorched Earth”.
Kjetil Møster saxophone; Hans Magnus ‘Snah’ Ryan guitar, vocals; Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen bass; Kenneth Kapstad drums.
Buy Inner Earth direct from Hubro.