After spending twelve years touring and recording, the three members of Bushman’s Revenge decided to take a much needed break. The gruelling and relentless schedule of the last few years had taken its toll. All that was needed was some time off, and a newly refreshed and revitalised Bushman’s Revenge would be good to go again.

By then, Bushman’s Revenge had come a long way since the band was formed in Oslo 2003. Since then, Bushman’s Revenge’s star has been in the ascendancy. Their albums have been released to critical acclaim, while Bushman’s Revenge were described as “the missing link between Albert Ayler and Black Sabbath.” That was a fitting description of a trailblazing band.

During the rise and rise of Bushman’s Revenge, they’ve become one of the most inventive, innovative and influential Norwegian bands of their generation. Bushman’s Revenge have released seven albums between 2007 and 2015. These albums find Bushman’s Revenge fusing free jazz, power rock and progressive rock. It’s a potent, heady and irresistible brew, that’s devoured greedily by music fans. Despite this, after their well deserved rest, Bushman’s Revenge decided to change direction on their eighth album.

Having enjoyed some needed downtime, the three members of Bushmen’s Revenge were raring to go. By then, Bushman’s Revenge had made the decision to change direction musically. They felt that for the time being, they had taken their fusion of “jazz, progressive and rock as far as they can.” However, this change of direction offered all sorts of new and exciting possibilities to Bushmen’s Revenge. This included making what Bushman’s Revenge describe as their “first proper jazz album,” Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen, which will be released by Rune Grammofon on the 16th of September 2016.

Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen which translates as “Jazz From Memory,” is a return to the music the members of Bushman’s Revenge played in their  “music school days when jazz was on the agenda and Coltrane was God.” However, times have changed since them. 

Nowadays, the three members of Bushman’s Revenge  are talented, versatile and confident musicians who can played with speed, accuracy and power. The members of Bushman’s Revenge  are also elder statesman of the Norwegian music scene.  Each member of Bushman’s Revenge has a life away from the band. They’re members of other bands; collaborate with other artists and works as  session musicians, arrangers, producers and songwriters. Always, though, the three members of Bushman’s Revenge, return to the mothership. That has been the case since the earliest days of Bushman’s Revenge.

It was back in 2003, that drummer Gard Nilssen, bassist Rune Nergaard and guitarist Even Helte Hermansen decided to form a new band. They shared a love for, and appreciation of, free jazz and progressive rock. The three musicians bonded while listening to un Ra, Cream, Alice Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Cream, Black Sabbath, The Pixies and Sonny Sharrock. This was the music that would go on to influence their new band when it made its live debut.

This came not long after the three friends returned from a holiday in South Africa. That was when they discovered that they had a concert booked. There was a problem though. The band had no name. So, remembering a brand of hot sauce they had encountered in South Africa, Bushman’s Revenge was born in 2003. 

Having made their live debut in 2003, Bushman’s Revenge spent the next four years honing their sound. They become a familiar face on Norway’s vibrant live music scene. Night after night, week after week, month after month, Bushman’s Revenge played pubs and clubs. After four years, Bushman’s Revenge had served their musical apprenticeship, and in the process, established a loyal fan-base. This would serve them well, as Bushman’s Revenge were about to release their debut album.

Later in 2007, Bushman’s Revenge released their debut album Cowboy Music n the Jazzaway label. It received praise and plaudits from critics. Soon, Bushman’s Revenge were on the move.

Before long, Bushman’s Revenge had signed to Rune Grammofon, one of Norway’s most prestigious labels. By February 2009,  Bushman’s Revenge were ready released their sophomore album. This was You Lost Me At Hello, which was released to widespread critical acclaim. Buoyed by the success of You Lost Me At Hello, Bushman’s Revenge released Jitterbug in April 2010. It further cemented Bushman’s Revenge’s  reputation as one of the rising stars of Norwegian music.

Despite this, it was nearly two years before Bushman’s Revenge returned with a new album. However, Bushman’s Revenge had been busy, and planned to release two albums during 2012. This included the critically acclaimed Never Mind The Botox in January 2012. It got 2012 off to a good start for Bushman’s Revenge.

They returned later in 2012, with another innovative album of genre-melting music, A Little Bit Of A Big Bonanza. It was another album of ambitious and inventive music from the Oslo based trio. Bushman’s Revenge’s fusion of free jazz and progressive rock had caught the attention of critics and record buyers.  Having released six studio albums in five years, Bushman’s Revenge noticed something was missing from their back-catalogue…a live album. So they set about rectifying this.

In April 2013, Electric Komle-Live was released. It showcased what Bushman’s Revenge live sounded like. It was an impressive sound, and one that won the approval of critics. So would Bushman’s Revenge’s seventh album.

This was Thou Shalt Boogie!, which was released in January 2014. It was another album where musical genres and influences melted into one, and became part of a heady and irresistible brew. Thou Shalt Boogie! was hailed as a career defining album. Bushman’s Revenge had reached new musical heights. There was only one problem, how would Bushman’s Revenge match Thou Shalt Boogie!?

Since the release of Thou Shalt Boogie!, the Bushman’s Revenge story took an unexpected twist.  Having spent twelve years touring and recording, the three members of Bushman’s Revenge decided to take a much needed break. The gruelling and relentless schedule of the last few years had taken its toll.

The break allowed Bushman’s Revenge to consider the future direction of the group. This resulted in Bushman’s Revenge deciding to change direction. They felt that for the time being, they had taken their fusion of “jazz, progressive and rock as far as they can.” However, this allowed Bushmen’s Revenge to record their “first proper jazz album,” Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen, which translates as “Jazz From Memory.” This is a fitting title.

It’s a long time since the members of Bushman’s Revenge have played what they describe as traditional jazz. That was back when they were music students. Since then, the members of Bushman’s Revenge are much more experienced, talented and versatile musicians. They’re also able to play with speed, accuracy and power, while seamlessly switching between, and combining disparate musical genres. However, for Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen Bushman’s Revenge have decided to take a different approach.

When it came to record Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen, Bushman’s Revenge were aiming to capture a much more organic, natural and joyous sound. This wasn’t all. Guitarist Even Helte Hermansen describes how Bushman’s Revenge wanted “to explore the link between the Shorter-Coltrane world on one side and electric blues-Hendrix on the other,  but without having to turn it all up to eleven.” To do this, Bushman’s Revenge went away and began work on what became Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen.

For Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen, Bushman’s Revenge wrote four new compositions, 0500, Bo Marius, Gamle Plata Til Arne and Lola Mit Dem Gorgonzola. The other two tracks were cover versions – McCoy Tyner’s Contemplation and Albert Ayler’s Angels. This Bushman’s Revenge hoped would result in an album of the most heartfelt and spiritual music of their career. So the Bushman’s Revenge booked two days at Athletic Sound, in Halden.

At Athletic Sound, drummer Gard Nilssen, bassist Rune Nergaard and guitarist Even Helte Hermansen were joined by recordists Kai Andersen and Dag Erik Johansen. The sessions began on the 2nd of May, and by the 3rd of May 2016, the six songs had been recorded. It had taken just two days to record Bushman’s Revenge’s comeback album.

With Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen recorded, Johnny Skalleberg mixed the album at Amper Tone, in Oslo. All that was left was for Helge Sten to master the album at Audio Virus Lab. Once the mastering was complete, Bushman’s Revenge’s eighth album was ready for release.

Less than four months later, Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen is about to be released. It’s a very different album from Bushman’s Revenge. Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen is also an ambitious album, where Bushman’s Revenge come out of their comfort zone to record their  “first proper jazz album.”

Opening Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen is Bushman’s Revenge’s cover of McCoy Tyner’s Contemplation. It’s slow, spacious and meanders thoughtfully along. Space is left in the understated arrangement by the rhythm section. They eschew power for a much more restrained approach. Here, less is more, as the bass and drums provide the backdrop for the guitar. It takes centre-stage, as it bristles, shimmers and glistens. Reverb is used, but not over used. Again, less is more, as the crystalline, chiming arrangement cuts through the arrangement. Occasionally, Gard Nilssen adds some drum fills and rolls. Mostly, though, Gard and bassist Rune Nergaard anchor the arrangement. Meanwhile,  guitarist Even Helte Hermansen is unleashing a virtuoso performance. He plays with speed and accuracy, his fingers flying up and down the fretboard, as he deploys a myriad of effects. Behind him, the rest of Bushman’s Revenge get in on the act, and step out of the shadows. Later, as the tempo drops, the arrangement meanders slowly and ruminatively along, inviting Contemplation on what’s a spiritual sounding track.

Just Rune Nergaard’s bass plays, as 0500 unfolds. Rune plucks and probes, continuing the ruminative sound of the previous track. By 1.54 the understated sound of a chiming guitar and pitter patter of drums enters. They play briskly, as Even Helte Hermansen guitar moves to the front of the mix. Behind him, the rhythm section play with urgency, as the searing. bristling guitar combines electric blues and rock. It’s played with urgency, speed and accuracy. Soon, though, Bushman’s Revenge lock into a groove, and are playing as one. Later, the tempo drops, and the arrangement becomes understated and thoughtful. However, everyone has played their part in this eight minute epic, where Bushman’s Revenge fused electric blues, jazz and rock with urgency, emotion, drama and power. It’s a potent and heady brew, and one top drink deep from.

Cinematic and mesmeric describes the introduction to Bo Marius. A wandering, prowling bass combines with the guitar. It’s played inventively, with Even Helte Hermansen’s fingers way down the fretboard, cajoling a series of chirping and bristling sound out of his trusty guitar. Soon, though, he’s producing chiming, crystalline and shimmering sounds. Meanwhile, the bass produces a hypnotic backdrop, while the drums play a supporting role. Sometimes, flamboyant. jazzy drums rolls are added. Still, the bass contributes the unwavering, mesmeric backdrop. It doesn’t miss a beat; while the guitar adds chiming, chirping and crystalline sounds. By then, the guitar is played with urgency, combining electric blues and rock. Reverb is added, as Even Helte Hermansen unleashes another virtuoso performance where he channels the spirit of Hendrix. Later, the time comes to slow things down, and the arrangement becomes understated as it gradually dissipates, leaving just the memory of seven mesmeric minutes.

Gamle Plata Til Arne isn’t a new track. Its roots are in the band’s first ever jam session. The title is a  reference to Arne Nordheim’s old plate reverb, which nowadays, resides  in the Amper Tone studio where the album was mixed. A drum fill gives way to  a bluesy jam. The bass prowls, while a searing, blistering blues rock guitar solo is unleashed. It slices through the arrangement. Effects are used, but not overused. A couple of times, the guitar feeds back, howling and shrieking, but the tiger is tamed, and soon, Even Helte Hermansen is working his magic. Meanwhile, at 5.14 the rhythm section create a jazzy backdrop. By then, Even Helte Hermansen is creating an ecstatic blues-rock solo. It’s played with speed, accuracy and power, as effects transforming this majestic solo. Meanwhile, the rhythm section seamlessly switch between jazz and rock. Later, as the track reaches a crescendo, Even Helte Hermansen is the last man standing. This is fitting, as he’s stolen the show with one of his best performances, which can only be described as sonic sorcery.

Anyone familiar with Albert Ayler’s music will be familiar with Angels, a track from the 1965 Quintet album Spirits Rejoice. It’s reinterpreted by Bushman’s Revenge. After a brief burst of sonic trickery, the chiming, crystalline guitar almost dances across the arrangement. It’s matched every step of the way the bass, while cymbals shimmer. Soon, the guitar is being played at breakneck speed, but with accuracy, as it heads in the direction marked rock. Effects are used, as another guitar masterclass unfolds. Meanwhile, the rhythm section provide the heartbeat. They provide the backdrop for Even Helte Hermanse’s  scorching and spellbinding solo. Buried deep in the solo, is what sounds like a brief nod to the guitar solo in Wings’ My Love. By then, Even Helte Hermanse has pulled out all the stops and has reached new heights. He combines speed, power and accuracy, and plays with a similar energy and enthusiasm as Albert Ayler, on what’s a beautiful track with a spiritual sound.

Lola which closes Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen is very different to what’s gone before. It’s a track whose roots can be traced to the mid-sixties, and the music of Swedish jazz pianist Jan Johanson. Here, though, there’s a melancholy sound as the arrangement meanders along. The bass is played subtly, while the cymbals are caressed with brushes. Taking centre-stage is Even Helte Hermanse’s jazzy guitar. It’s chirping, chiming and crystalline sound is at the heart of the sound and success of this beautiful, wistful  track. This ensures that this new chapter in Bushman’s Revenge’s career ends on a resounding high.

After two years away, where the three members of Bushman’s Revenge took a well deserved break, they’ve returned revitalised and rejuvenated, with an ambitious album, Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen. Bushman’s Revenge wanted: “to explore the link between the Shorter-Coltrane world on one side and electric blues-Hendrix on the other,  but without having to turn it all up to eleven.” This project wasn’t going to be easy. However, the multitalented Bushman’s Revenge managed to do so.

The hardest part of the Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen project, was reworking McCoy Tyner’s Contemplation and Albert Ayler’s Angels. After all, look at the personnel that played on the original versions.

When McCoy Tyner recorded the original version on his 1967 haps bop classic The Real McCoy, the lineup featured four of the finest jazz musicians of their generation. Joining the rhythm section of drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Ron Carter, were pianist McCoy Tyner and tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson. With neither a piano nor tenor saxophone, Bushman’s Revenge had to reinvent the track. This they succeeded in doing, using just the bass, drums and guitar. Using a less is more approach, Contemplation became a  became a beautiful, reflective and indeed, spiritual track. It was a familiar story Albert Ayler’s Angels. 

Originally, Angels, featured on the 1965 album by the Albert Ayler Quintet album Spirits Rejoice. Again, the album features an all-star lineup, including alto saxophone, Albert Ayler’s tenor saxophone and trumpet. This placed Bushman’s Revenge at a disadvantage. However,  what Bushman’s Revenge decided to to do, was use Even Helte Hermanse’s guitar to replicate the energy and enthusiasm of Albert Ayler’s tenor saxophone. Even Helte Harmonise rose to the challenge, as he loses himself in what becomes an epic track where beauty and a  spiritual sound are omnipresent throughout. Just like Contemplation, Angels had been reinvented, and became something that Albert Ayler could never have expected, but he would most likely have enjoyed. That would’ve been the case throughout Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen.

Throughout Fritt Etter Hukommelsen.,  Bushman’s Revenge were at their most ambitious, inventive and innovative. They wrote Lola, a  languid and wistful slice of late summer Scandinavian jazz.  In an instant, Bushman’s Revenge are transported back in time to the sixties, where they become a jazz trio. Seamlessly, they adopt to the change of style. That’s the case as the album heads in the direction of electric blues.

There was a reason for this, Bushman’s Revenge wanted to explore the effect that electric blues had on Jimi Hendrix. The effect of the blues on Jimi Hendrix’s music can’t be underestimated.  Jimi Hendrix incorporated blues into his music, and often, used the blues as a starting point for a song. He then took the song in new and unexpected directions. That’s similar to what Bushman’s Revenge do on 0500, Bo Marius and Gamle Plata Til Arne. They combine electric blues with rock, psychedelia and jazz. There’s even diversions into avant-garde, blues rock and free jazz. Just like on previous albums, Bushman’s Revenge fuse disparate musical genres, as they create music that’s ambitious, inventive and innovative. 

That’s been the case throughout Bushman’s Revenge’s thirteen year, and eight album career. However, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen is a new start for Bushman’s Revenge. They showcase their versatility as they move away from their previous fusion of jazz and progressive rock. 

In its place, is a sound where electric blues, jazz and rock are to the fore. That’s the case throughout Fritt Etter Hukommelsen where Bushman’s Revenge create ambitious and innovative music that veers between dramatic, mesmeric and wistful to emotive and ruminative. Other times, Bushman’s Revenge create music that’s beautiful, impassioned and has a spiritual quality. That’s what Bushman’s Revenge set out do on Fritt Etter Hukommelsen, which they describe as their “first proper jazz album.”  Maybe this will be the start of a new chapter in the career of musical pioneers Bushman’s Revenge? Only time will tell.



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