Møster!: Inner Earth

Listening to Møster!'s Inner Earth, I'm reminded of Last Exit, the incendiary, now-retired improv quartet featuring Bill Laswell, Ronald Shannon Jackson, Sonny Sharrock, and Peter Brötzmann. But it's not so much that the musicians in Møster! play in a manner similar to their Last Exit counterparts so much as that the music of both outfits generates an energy level so immense it borders on volcanic. If anything, a stronger argument for the connection might apply to Møster!'s debut album, Edvard Lygre Møster, for the simple fact that the 2013 live recording, being so spontaneous and fierce, is closer in spirit to Last Exit than its follow-up, which, by Møster's own admission, advances more in the direction of prog than its predecessor.

But if Inner Earth is prog, it's an exceptionally raw and intense form of it, something intimated by the set list alone: the forty-two-minute outing, which features bandleader Møster, Motorpsycho guitarist Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan, bassist Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen (Elephan9, BigBang), and drummer Kenneth Kapstad (Motorpsycho, Grand General), opens with the twenty-minute, four-part “Descending Into This Crater” and concludes with “Underworld Risk,” titles that literally suggest the band's desire to plunge into the primordial depths and mine the earth's raw power.

While things might begin calmly enough, it doesn't take long for “Descending Into This Crater” to begin stoking seriously fierce fire in the opening part “Poutanian Debate” before temporarily easing up for the second, “Central Sunrise.” “Magma Movement” sees Ryan strafing the rhythm section's slow-blues backing with lacerating lines and Møster musing rather gently by comparison, after which “Mount Vesuvio” rolls out the opening setting's heaviest slo-core sludge. Group interplay during the fourteen-minute “Tearatorn” makes good on the prog label when the music churns with the malevolent broil of a Red-era King Crimson improv and Ryan and Møster wail in particularly vicious manner.

Interestingly, Inner Earth sometimes feels like it's more Ryan's date than Møster's, given how forceful a presence the guitarist is throughout. While the saxophonist sometimes lays out, Ryan never ceases slathering the music with billowing textures of one kind or another. Yet while that might be the case, the album more generally presents all four musicians in scorched-earth mode, and the force of Møster!'s live attack ensures that no one will be checking their phones during Inner Earth's roar.

January 2015