In South Africa, there’s a range of hot sauces with names like ‘Bushman’s Fire’, ‘Bushman’s Hot As Hell’… and the most mouth-searing of all: ‘Bushman’s Revenge’.
Three Norwegian musicians had a few ‘memorable encounters’ with the sauces on a trip to South Africa some years back, and later when they suddenly realised: ‘have gig in a couple of days, need name now’, they chose the name of the spiciest of the lot. ‘I guess you can say that the Revenge made a lasting impression,’ says the group’s guitarist, Even Helte Hermansen. And the Norwegian Bushman’s Revenge recipe offers quite a mouthful in its own right.
Formed in 2003, the Oslo based trio are upfront about their love for the progressive rock of Cream and Jimi Hendrix, the galactic jazz of Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, Sonny Sharrock and Alice Coltrane, plus the raw power of Black Sabbath and The Pixies.
Thou Shalt Boogie! is their sixth album for Rune Grammofon, a relationship that began with 2009’s You Lost Me At Hello. Its velvety, warm sound was captured at Athletic Sound in Halden, Norway, close to the Swedish border – a legendary tape-only studio with a 30-year history. Although there are three rooms separated by glass, they kept all the doors open ‘so essentially what you are hearing is everybody in one big room’, says Even.
Superbly paced, and poised in the indefinable zone between composing and improvisation, Thou Shalt Boogie! achieves a fine balance between brute heaviosity and meditative bliss. Even Hermansen brought various ideas for chord sequences and melodies into the studio, but the group collectively make them their own, adopting an ‘everybody solos, nobody solos’ approach.
One of the two long set pieces on the record is the 17 minute ‘Baklengs Inn i Fuglekassa’, which includes the shimmering drone of an Indian sruti box halfway through – an innovative touch that transports the track to an unearthly plane.
The working title of Thou Shalt Boogie!, Hermansen reveals, was Yoga. ‘The idea was to do a more meditative record than we previously have,’ he admits. ‘The drone is a small tip of the hat to Alice Coltrane. Her Journey In Satchidananda is one of my favourite records of all time. I wanted to have some kind of tribute to her on there.’
Although Bushman’s Revenge is essentially a trio (with Rune Nergaard, bass, and Gard Nilssen, drums), they were joined on this date by keyboardist David Wallumrød, whose Hammond organ tones provide silky washes of background colour.
The band included him on a tour in early 2013 and he stuck around. ‘The band has never been tighter and we’re having more fun than ever,’ says Even. ‘The point is to keep moving – forwards, backwards, sideways, up or down, it really doesn’t matter as long as you’re in motion.’ Personnel Even Helte Hermansen – guitar, Rune Nergaard – bass, Gard Nilssen – drums, vibraphone, David Wallumrød – Hammond organ, clavinet, Prophet 5.
1. I Am An Astronaut
2. Baklengs Inn i Fuglekassa
3. Waltz Me Baby
4. Waltz Me All Night Long
5. Kugeln Und Kraut
6. Hurra For Mamma