Hurra Torpedo - kitchen appliance bashers go global

With a fantastic rendition of Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart performed on various kitchen appliances and spread at warp speed on the web, Hurra Torpedo gained cult-status overnight. Read more on this bizarre ensemble, their link with motor giant Ford and this autumn’s wild coast-to-coast US tour.


Hurra Torpedo live 2005 Kristopher Schau (photo: L-P Lorentz)

Norwegian kitchen appliance rock band Hurra Torpedo have completed their first tour of the US. The entire venture was thoroughly documented and the last video clips were posted on the web Dec 13th. A full feature “rockumentary” is possibly underway.

Let the first and only guaranteed fact of this article be this: those of us concerned with music should be thankful that the group bearing the name Hurra Torpedo label themselves an orchestra, for this is far from obvious, and it gives us privileged access to an ore of unrivalled hilarity.

The truthfulness of any attempt at profiling this group and their project is principally dubious, because, as this story will debate, bewilderment regarding the true nature of the project is indeed its substance.
To begin with, Hurra Torpedo is but one of a plethora of bands belonging to a specific world of elusive entities: bands, events, facts and personae.
This is the Duplex world, a phenomenon more or less known in Norway, but too complex to delineate in this context. The point is that it constitutes a wide landscape void of lines to demarcate true from false and the earnest from hoax.

The only thing indisputable about this, except for the bewilderment itself, is that comedy is an integral part of the whole project. But the comedy is two dimensional at least, for one thing is the jokes and jests as such, but numerous other aspects are also at play, and a large part of the fun is to fall pray to these guys’ whims and subterfuges; to not rally be able to tell what they’re up to. If this were easily determinable much of the fun would be lost, and exactly by means of a hugely complex and indeterminable enterprise they have managed to become a factor in the Norwegian public sphere. The Duplex sphere is a constant source of projects and contributions that wary from utter slapstick to semi-revolutionary ways of exposing traits of society, notably the gullibility of the media, which is, of course, in the vein of indeterminability, their chief calling.

This fall Hurra Torpedo reached a new level of this favourite game.
Again, the level of initial enlightenment regarding the different parties of the this story is hard to asses, but seemingly the story goes as follows: By coincidence a ten year old video clip of the band performing live, which means banging on kitchen appliances while attempting to play Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the heart”, started to become a popular video-download on the web.
This was a very old clip from Norwegian TV, from way before any web-based kind of reality, but it was exactly the kind of humour the internet encourages: weirdness in appearance and obscurity of origin. For anyone not acquainted with “Hurra” it was hard to make up one’s mind about it. Was it from a real TV show, or was the whole thing manufactured?

In 2005, the “personalized” nature of the Web (Blogosphere) has made corporate and commercial players think of communication and advertisement along new lines. One major trend is to create comprehensive entities that are presented as real, give them a prolonged “life” in the Blogosphere, and thus insipidly exhibit a product with stealth and cunning, within the framework of the web-generation’s own “reality”.
Since no one controls the web, and no one edits the blogosphere, the opportunities to create such entities are limitless. And the point is that all comment and critique, all nominal “disclosure”, might itself be part of a grander scheme. It all depends on the resources. The whole thing is like the conspiracies known from TV and movies and bad authors, where “agencies” are able to manufacture whole sub-spheres of reality. The web provides ample opportunity to create such elusive spheres, so the era of uncertainty, of possible conspiracy is here.

On the basis of this, Ford motor company, or the think-tank behind their commercial strategy rather, came up with the idea of having a virtual band tour the US in a brand new Ford Fusion.
The main point was that the band had to be weird, had to be funny, and most of all had to be indeterminable, so that the uncertainty towards authenticity would survive for a good long time, and of course fuel itself in becoming an issue with meta issues, like all conspiracies.

And into this context came the old video-clip of the Norwegian band that was both real and fake, contrived but at large, funny and also foreign. “Hurra” were ideal; an American band would have been a lot easier to assess, more predictable, therefore shorter-lived and less comic.

Thus Hurra Torpedo and the Duplex idea were drawn into the global version of the domestic, almost private, reality in which they had already been active for years in Norway.

The bewilderment is still intact as to how exactly it happened, but in October the band went over to New York. Their self-confessed belief was that they were going on a tour of the US based on their music and comedy, and certainly not in virtue of a “foreign” indeterminability that suited a grand conspiracy on the web. The tour was to be documented by a fan fresh out from film school. Perfectly plausible, they thought..

Maybe we will never know to what degree it was all planned or whether coincidence did play a role. What is certain is that the online coverage of the tour has been attracting a lot of attention. Clips from apparently authentic incidents have been posted on the net daily for weeks and weeks. Some of them have had many hundreds of thousands of hits. Reason number one: the immediate hilarity of the band and their experiences. Reason number two: the question: is this for real?

So it escalated, as predicted, into an issue of the blogosphere, and the nature of Hurra Torpedo’s American tour is still a matter of confusion it seems. But
summing it all up is easy: reality is not what it used to be, Hurra Torpedo and the Duplex boys have contributed to this fact, and in so doing they have made many people laugh.
(The “rockumentary” really is hilariously funny.)


Watch Hurra Torpedo video clips at The Crushing Blow

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