With Jitterbug, Bushman's Revenge asserts that the modern power trio continues to be alive, well, and living in...Norway. You Lost Me At Hello (Rune Grammofon, 2009) was an intense, often-times relentless debut that married Stuart H. Tresser-ian psychedlia with Albert Ayler-esque abandon. Leaning hard towards the rock side of the jazz-rock equation, the personnel remains the same, but is augmented by Supersilent/Elephant9 keyboardist Stale Storløkken on two of the disc's nine songs, all written by guitarist Even Helte Hermansen, with the exception of drummer Gard Nilssen's subdued "Too Old to Die Young" and the brief, head-banging boogie cover of Metallica's "Damage" that, by soaring into some harsher free extremes, makes the iconic metal band look like soft rock.
-like skronking on the tumultuous but blues-centric "Always in Motion the Future Is"supported by a maelstrom of activity by Nilssen and bassist Rune Nergaardor skewed Bill Frisell-ian lyricism on the American-esque closer, "Waltz for My Good Man."
He may be lesser-known in North America, but Hermansen is an increasingly busy player on the vibrant and persistently groundbreaking Norwegian scene, contributing crunching guitar work to Shining's latest, Blackjazz (Indie Recordings, 2010); sparer accompaniment on singer Solveig Slettahjell's most recent Slow Motion Orchestra disc, Tarpan Seasons (Universal Music Norway, 2010); and more ethereal timbres on Eple Trio's The Widening Sphere of Influence (NORCD, 2008). Here with his own group, however, Hermansen demonstrates the full breadth of his ability in one place, whether it's Nels Cline
's Leslie-driven organ emulationis on its own for nearly the first two minutes, before Nergaard and Nilssen enter with a spare backbeat that slowly, inexorably builds to a thundering climax. "Too Old to Die Young" builds with a similar inevitability, Hermansen's clean, whammy-driven tone giving way to a grittier tone but still-lyrical disposition.
Jitterbug is an inevitable follow-up to You Lost Me At Hello's not-for-the-faint-at-heart aesthetic, but there's more than just the expected growth and increased chemistry that come simply from being a group for longer and gigging more. There's no shortage of relentless, hard-edged jamming, but there's also greater stylistic breadth and dynamic range. The trio is capable of what could be unexpected subtlety on tracks like "Personal Poltergeist," where Hermansen's distorted guitarprocessed to sound something like Charlie Hunter
Elsewhere, "Kill Your Jitterbug Darlings" rocks hard, its retro, Quentin Tarantino-like cinematic feel all the more legit thanks to Storløkken's organ, while the shifting bars of "While My Guitar Gently Breaks" create a pulsing context for Storløkken's soaring solojust one more reason, along with Elephant9's Walk the Nile (Rune Grammofon, 2010), to pay attention to this remarkable Norwegian keyboardist.
If You Lost Me At Hello was a powerful first salvo, Jitterbug provides an even bigger picture of Bushman's Revenge by leveraging the unyielding power of its predecessor with a broader stylistic canvas and clearer collective voice.
Personnel: Even Helte Hermansen: guitar; Rune Nergaard: bass; Gard Nilssen: drums; Stale Storløkken: organ (2, 3).