Sumo Princess have been around for nearly three years, but it's taken until now to release their debut full length album. It's been worth it, because When An Electric Storm is a half-crazed, schizophrenic, operatic, swampy beast of a record.
Despite the curveball nature of the album, reference points are made easy because all we have to do is look at the duo's resumes. Drummer Gene Trautmann has played with Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal, Mark Lanegan and '80s paisley underground band The Miracle Workers. Meanwhile, Abby Travis has had a bit of a journeywoman-like career, performing with the likes of The Go-Go's, Cher, Beck, Elastica, KMFDM and Masters of Reality.
Put all of that together, and you can see the shape of Sumo Princess start to form. Certainly the Sabbath-esque elements of QOTSA and Masters of Reality, the quirk of Beck, the fuzzy indie of Elastica, the melodic suss of the Go-Go's and even some cold KMFDM 'tude. It all makes sense.
“When Abby asked me to play in Sumo I was stoked because I knew her musicianship and drive would challenge me to better my own playing and to do things I wouldn’t normally do in the standard rock paradigm,” said Trautmann on an accompanying press release. “We’re really hitting marks across the spectrum of style and I like it like that. Also I get to sing and play orchestral percussion, which is awesome.”
“A lot of this music is my reaction to being a hired gun for so long,” added Travis. “I just got sick of being appropriate and tastefully restrained. Most of Sumo Princess’s music is very aggressive and quite political, albeit by metaphor rather than an anvil to the skull.”
So we get the dark and epic “Kill the King,” complete with Travis' mildly Tori Amos-esque vocals. From there, one song blurs into the next as the band takes you on a wild and wacky journey, complete with arty drum fills and odd instrumental interludes. Bear with it — the album is worth the effort.