We’ve featured Bushman’s Revenge before, in the small live club setting. This time we check out their fourth studio album. The timing’s perfect, bringing the action to a larger audience. At Øya festival, this trio drew a rather large crowd despite hardly ever looking up from their instruments.
With the success of Hedvig Mollestad Trio, the mainstream’s warmed to styles of music earlier reserved for bearded post-grads with slightly approving nods. I have said it before, this new generation of jazz musicians have the same collection of punk and metal as you. They are pushing boundaries, one album at a time. Even though they hardly provoke, I can sense a certain light mischief in their competition to see who can get more metalheads nodding along.
This explosive instrumental trio have cut their teeth in bands like Shining and Puma and name their new style, “rock and action jazz”. Normally I sigh at all these new labels, but action jazz rolls of the tongue easier than say “post screamo dubsteb”. They owe a lot to classic hard rock and prog, both Motorhead and King Crimson echo in the back if my mind. Tracks are long, have silly names, and basically blast along with no time to breathe.
A Little Bit of Big Bonanza is album number 5 in ten years. The formula keeps boiling down to a more rocking sound. The earlier albums are by no means weak, but several of them are plagued by the long yawns of jazz jam. This effort seems to be made more for the people, not the academy graduates.
Primarily it sounds fun. Spinning this record makes you want to be in the band, they sound like they are having a good time. Most of the tracks here are recorded on the first or second take to keep the music fresh and the band on their toes. When you hear the result, it sounds a little too tight to be a done in one take. Somewhere a budding bedroom guitarist is putting his expensive vintage Jazzmaster down and wiping tears from his glasses. Damn you Bushman!
“No more dead bodies for daddy tonight” (a Planet Terror reference, classy!) is the album’s winner with it’s vicious Motorhead backbeat. Catchiest piece of guitar driven jazz you will hear in 2012.
“Jeg baker kokosboller” is another good one. Slight psychedelic surf with some sweet harmonics. Perfect for your Sunday morning blues.
A soft mellow prog ballad and a noise drone make for the breather between the galloping main tracks. Clever idea, listening to Bushman’s Revenge can actually be a little exhausting, so much things happen at once. This is not criticism, it is a nerdy compliment. You can go back and check out the details in the songs, loving them more as you get to know them better.
Like any good stage show, the album saves the fireworks for last. The closing track’s name is just too good to go untranslated. “Hent tollekniven Ivar, det har strandet en hval” (Ivar, get your sheath knife, a whale has beached). On this track, string master Even plays his guitar like it has caught fire and he needs to put out the flames all along the neck. It builds to this Hendrix’esque desperate wail, drums pounding like stoner neanderthal to keep up. A lesson in jazz violence.
To sum it up: This is soul food for the musical crisis of the late twenties/early thirties. Where you desperately cling on to your former hard rocking self, while easing into the water of pleasant chill out and uncomplicated indie. It is music to grow older to. Technical finesse, but not at the cost of hard-rocking back beats and classic guitar riffing.