Bushman’s Revenge ‘Et hån mot overklassen’ 2LP/CD (Hubro) 4/5

Norway’s prolific trio Bushman’s Revenge (named after a brand of potent South African chilli sauce) release their tenth album, Et Hån Mot Overklassen on Hugo records. Their debut for Norway’s Rune Grammofon, Cowboy Music was released back in 2007. The trio are Gard Nilssen, drums, percussion, vibraphone, Wurlitzer and electronics, Rune Nergaard, bass, organ, toy piano, percussion, electronics, Even Helte Hermansen, soprano, baritone, guitars, percussion, electronics.

The title apparently translates as ‘a mockery of the upper class.’ Is this a joke regarding the loud and unsubtle yellow muscle car, possibly a 2002 Dodge Viper which adorns the sleeve? It’s obviously someone’s pride and joy but perhaps the car is not in the best possible taste.

The band draw on an eclectic selection of influences from the obvious and mighty godfather of Norwegian jazz, Terje Rypdal to the likes of Sonny Sharrack, some of whose tunes they’ve previously covered. There also seems to be respectful nods in the direction of Mahavishnu John McLaughlin as far as the intensity and speed of Hermamsen’s playing go as well as the presence of a smoother John Scofield influenced guitar sound. Large dollops of acid rock and the sound and smell of Eastern mysticism also waft through the album. Industrial sounds, heavy metal both literal and metaphorical also echo around the soundscape.

‘Sly Love With a Midnight Creeper’ is the first tune, the intro offers a Beatlesque backwards tape sound, inviting the listener to wonder what the subliminal message might be saying. It morphs into something with the feel of a 60s movie soundtrack, psychedelic and acid grooves with a hauntingly wistful melody repeat on the vibes as the guitar meanders its way around this structure in a dream-like way. Plenty of brushwork on the drums is pleasingly apparent. Nostalgic atmospherics make it all quite moody, lots of influences are just out of the mind’s reach but the piece holds its own against these and remains true to itself without sounding too much like anything else.

The next track ‘Folk Kremt No Av Of Til Berre I Lause Lufta Og’ follows without pause, though the change of pace to light industrial ambience and post-apocalyptic sci-fi theme is obvious.

Funky and echoey, the sound of ‘Happy Hour for Mr Sanders’ is generous with the distortion and has a frenetic urgency to the guitar work, for a moment it’s back to 1971 before the more ordered earlier sound resumes. Voices from a poorly tuned radio frequency populate the ether out here but I can’t make out what is said.

The first pause in the recording takes place before track 4, ‘A Bottle A Day Keeps The Wolves At Bay.’ Sitar like texture fused with an industrial metallic theme even echoes the wolf of the title with a howling presence. Guitar and bass pick out the melody and straddle the piece giving a sense of mild inebriation.

‘The Curious Case Of The Resting Blue Steel Face’ punctuates with ambience once again before ‘Moves Away From The Door’ which sounds like a stage instruction, offers more dreamy and sublime soundscapes.

The band exhibit their sense of humour with some hardcore industrial noise on ‘Ladies Night At The Jazz Fusion Disco’

I can’t quite square the music I’m hearing with the title of the album and the presentation, there seems to be an incongruity which is making it hard to piece together the intention. The music is top class though, perhaps that’s where the joke lies and I should just listen and enjoy.

James Read