Song of the Day: Russian Circles - Mota

Song of the Day
08/22/2016
Scott Kulicke
photo by Nicholas Sayers

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJ’s think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “Mota” by Russian Circles from their sixth album, Guidance, out now on Sargent House.

Russian Circles - Mota (MP3)

With a name like "Mota," you might expect the third track off of Russian Circles' newest album to represent the sludgiest, muckiest stoner rock the band could muster - thick layers of fuzz and sub that press you deep into the couch in a slack-jawed reverie so awe-inspiring you don't notice that you're slowly spilling beer on your leg. Instead, it opens with a tight, controlled series of acrobatic arpeggios that provide a rhythmic underpinning, freeing up the drums to go through thunder-and-lighting tom rolls and ample kick drums straight to the sternum. The song is cinematic and visual, with a slowly evolving chord progression that befits the emotional climax of a movie's third act. This is possibly where the song's title comes from: not from thick, hazily distorted traditional stoner rock, but from the borderline-hallucinatory visuals it evokes.

Reviews of Russian Circles' sixth album, Guidance, consistently praise the same point: that the band has managed (again) to avoid slipping into cliche, never overdoing the "doom jam band" thing, instead keeping their compositions controlled and purposeful, pushing and pulling on song structure in perfect proportions. They abandon traditional song structures without ever falling into a mushroom-y void. "Mota" is an excellent example of this - without ever relying on a hook, without ever doubling back on a part, it's a cohesive vision from beginning to end with clear growth and a dramatic character - and, most importantly, it rocks.

Russian Circles will be tearing up Neumos on Tuesday, August 30th, and tickets are still available, so make sure you get some while you still can. Find out more dates and listen to more music at their website and Facebook page. For now, check out "Vorel", the very heavy song that immediately precedes "Mota" on Guidance:

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