Review: Mos Generator ‘Time//Wounds’
Readers of this fine website will doubtless be familiar with the extensive output of veteran Tony Reed, producer, studio owner, and musical force who has carved out his legacy with bands such as Stone Axe, Twelve Thirty Dreamtime and of course the legendary Mos Generator. Over his time, he has displayed a relentless work ethic that has spanned the previous decades, contributing some of the most important and innovative music to the genre, as well as delivering incendiary and uncompromising live shows that deservedly earned respect and rightly positioning him as one of the godfathers of the hard rock and stoner scene.
Having built the Mos Generator brand over the past twenty odd years, born from the ashes of a previous on/off project that spanned a decade, they have established themselves over the course of nine studio albums, countless split and live releases as a band to strip back the mindset of hard rock and create something challenging and innovative.
Their latest album Time//Wounds thematically addresses the passing of time. Written and recorded over two sessions during 2021, it draws on topics that have been around since before the band’s formation and builds beyond them. During the course of these six tracks, Reed explores alternative music and progressive rock in a manner that could feel at home in any of the preceding four decades, and still form a vital and standalone record that belongs in 2022.
Although previous albums have been leading up to this shift in sound, this latest entry takes a massive leap forward (and backward) by conjuring the spirit of reckless young musicians and combining it with the experience and diversity of mature songwriters.
The album opens with the bright surf rock pop jangle of Aja-Minor. The track flies with funky abandon through jaunty licks and vocals. The theme of time, the tolls taken by the pursuit of dreams, and the regret of opportunities not taken connects all the lyrics throughout Time//Wounds that is prevalent from the start as they move from a cascading plunge into mellowed out moments of bliss and a rich blues workout before the tracks tender finish.
The lavish pop vibes continue on the first half of (Don’t) Wait Until Tomorrow. The semi acoustic offering having as much in common with the likes of Chris Cornell’s solo work, or even Keith Caputo’s Died Laughing album, before entering a more urgent passage that again bring the chronometric themes to the fore.
Burn Away The Tears brings more prog rock dalliances as it introduces layers of synthesizers and mellotron courtesy of Reed himself, before the darker rush of Getting Good At Revenge thunders in. Manic and twisting, the three musicians who, along with Reed are Jono Garrett on drums and Sean Booth on bass, riff off each other in a tumbling, frenetic collision of tension before morphing into a quiet/loud dynamic that will have you banging your head involuntarily.
Reed’s smoky guitar tone runs throughout… while anchored by the pulsing bass and accented by the deft drumming…
Only Yesterday sees them return to that surf pop cool. Running for nearly eight minutes, the expansive semi-instrumental flows and dances effortlessly before the vocals settle the second half down into a more conventional rock format. Chugging along with a feeling of inevitable urgency, the track breaks out into delicate harmonies and a beautiful solo that is awash with indie light sensibilities whilst never losing that driving focus.
Ending with the longest track Until We Meet Again (parts i-iv) Mos Generator start with a moody, grunge like track built around the lyrics of the title itself. The music constantly shifts whilst retaining the heavier atmosphere and the multi-layered vocals are full of pensive and searching that matches the sombre feel.
As they progress, Mos Generator play with the sonic palette in the same way that classic era Black Sabbath would tangent off; the jazz influences meaning that predictable formula is thrown out of the window introducing ballad like soft sidebars that bring the tempo down, wistfully musing on some fleeting connected thought, before building again and returning to the core of the song.
Until We Meet Again uses these sidebars of subconscious to evolve and add flourishes, meaning that every step, every addition pushes the music into further developed avenues of exploration. Reed’s smoky guitar tone runs throughout these variations while anchored by the pulsing bass and accented by the deft drumming, ranging from almost Black Sabbath chug to delicate indie whimsy and space rock musings.
Steeped in retro flavour yet timeless, Time//Wounds is a collection of songs that ironically feels like the listener has stepped out of time. Of all the music I have heard this year, this latest Mos Generator album feels almost singularly unique in style, making it sound fresh as they ask you to step into their world and come with them on a journey, one that plays with the lyrical concepts through the music.
Over their career, the band have never settled, or become defined by expectation or genre, and show no signs of running out of ideas at this stage as at times, their ninth release can feel quirky and take you in unexpected directions. They may have also shared stages with the likes of Fu Manchu, Saint Vitus, Atomic Bitchwax, and are regularly associated with the ‘stoner’ genre, however, Time//Wounds demonstrates this is an erroneous tag as they have defied such staid expectations.
Released on 16th December on standard and limited vinyl runs through the band’s own Music Abuse Records, the European CD distribution is being handled by Pale Wizard Records, home of Sergeant Thunderhoof who Reed shared the Kate Bush tribute Beyond The Pale: Volume One split with, to reduce shipping costs in these tumultuous of times proving once again that Reed and co are some of the good guys.
Label: Music Abuse Records | Pale Wizard Records
Band Links: Facebook | Bandcamp | Instagram
Scribed by: Mark Hunt-Bryden