There's a point when a jam is just a jam, and when a jam becomes a journey... man. Ever since Chris Forsyth started The Solar Motel Band to fill out his long-form rock compositions, the Philly guitarist has proven his versatility not only as an instrumentalist, but also as a storyteller.
Onstage, The Solar Motel Band opts for maximum-volume, high-energy rock 'n' roll — even low-key numbers are massive in their movement. In the NPR Music offices, where amp stacks could rattle books off the shelves, Forsyth culls a set from The Rarity Of Experience that plays to the room and speaks to the malleability of his work. The sparkling "Harmonious Dance" meditates on a gently unfolding melody shared between Forsyth and guitarist Nick Millevoi. Due to touring conflicts, The Solar Motel Band's rhythm section is different here than on record, but bassist Matt Stein provides a grounding force, as drummer Ryan Jewell — a heavy in the Columbus, Ohio, avant-jazz/improv scene for the past decade and change — loosens the very ground beneath it all. It's a dynamic that works to the band's advantage, helping to churn and turn these songs into new forms, like shifting plates beneath the Earth that disrupt and correct themselves.
The Solar Motel Band closes this set with a twofer. First, there's the dubby and rumbling "The First Ten Minutes Of C********* Blues" (a nod to the unreleased Rolling Stones documentary directed by Robert Frank), where Millevoi bends and whammies the strings of his Fender into the dirt. But just as we crawl out from the grime, a buzzing drone segues into "Boston Street Lullaby," an understated and quiet tune with disquieting moments — a disarming journey worth taking.
The Rarity Of Experience is available now (iTunes) (Amazon). Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band goes on tour with Super Furry Animals starting July 21.
- "Harmonious Dance"
- "The First Ten Minutes Of C********* Blues"
- "Boston Street Lullaby"
Producers: Lars Gotrich, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Morgan McCloy, CJ Riculan; Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR.
For more Tiny Desk concerts, subscribe to our podcast.