Ole Petter Andreassen is El Doom, Norwegian artist, producer and founding member of death n’ rollers The Cumshots and stoner poptarts Thulsa Doom, two wildly different-sounding bands. I must admit I was intrigued then, when his Born Electric project plopped onto my desk with the information that he had collected around him a sort of a “Who`s Who of the Norwegian progressive/jazz scene. We have Norwegian Grammy-awarded bass-player Nicolai Eilertsen (Elephant 9), drummer Haavard Takle Ohr (El Cuero), Hammond wiz Ståle Storløkken (Elephant 9) and guitarists Brynjar Takle Ohr (El Cuero) and Hedvig Mollestad (Hedvig Mollestad Trio). Unfamiliar names but, as early listens prove beyond a doubt, all incredibly adept at their art.
Across the 53 minutes of their debut’s running time, there are some straight-forward tunes, like the indignant howls that haunt ‘With Full Force’ and the threaded hooks and melting heart of ‘The Lights’. However, the lengthier pieces reveal the band’s true colours and penchant for throwing everything into the pot and liberally stirring. Take ‘Fire Don’t Know’. It bursts forth with a bumpy camel ride of a guitar riff that unbalances you with its thunderous grunt, threatening to throw you off before El Doom can pour out his tremulous David Bowie meets Neil Arthur (Blancmange) vocal. Obscure 70s/80s references aside, the nine-minute blazer, wrapped around a malleable, prog rock wall of sound, crescendos and abates its way through careering psych and driving stickwork, vibrating wodges of Hammond and reverb-heavy guitar solo.
Thought that was good? Get a load if ‘It’s Electric’. It’s the strait-jacketed madman within; the forceful bass bullying it’s way to stand side-by-side with El Doom. It’s the sound of The Melvins channelling Rush through Mastodon’s insane set-up. The blue hints, oddly offer up the kind of tonal flourishes that Mark Morton brings to Lamb Of God to mind, and the dying licks of Spanish guitar slap on nothing but a huge grin to your gurning face.
‘The Hook’, naturally, stands out a mile. The sheer panic within Doom’s quavering vocal almost loses the plot; chaos defined. Matching it there is a blitzkrieg of guitars that dive down into cloud before reappearing to continue the dogfight. Volume knobs are toyed with and the jarring chords begin to collapse in on themselves as the production calls it a day and fades them out well before their time is up. Still, there are some sublime riffs lurking within all this. The best of which is the sinuous lick that marks out ‘Subtle As A Shit House’ and will see you strapping on the air guitar and screwing your eyes up in reverie. Sure the track falls into a pit of classic rock posturing but you’ll buy into it to get back to that sublime riff once more. Oh, and you want a spot of Soundgarden-esque grunge? Look no further than the 11-minute wanderlust of ‘Red Flag’.
All tracks covered then, we have learned that to appreciate El Doom And The Born Electric’s debut, an open mind is an absolute must. For those fans of all things rock who are willing to dig into something a little more jazzy and a lot more progressive than they are used to, will be handsomely rewarded.
(8/10 John Skibeat)