Wondergroove released their debut album HI-FI DEMONSTRATION RECORD in 2000 on Solid Rock Records. The group’s roster is: Aslak Nygren (Vocals and Tambourine), and Charles Norman (Guitars, Vox, Synth, Rhythm Machines, Bass, Hard Drive). Aslak is from Sister Rain, while Charles is the younger brother of CCM music pioneer Larry Norman. Also appearing on the album are: Kristin Stavang (synth), Rune Annaniassen (bass), Sid Riggs (drums), and Dizzy Reed (additional keyboards). Reed is best known for his work with Guns ‘N’ Roses. This album is thinly produced and engineered by Charles Norman and is said to be “sonically treated for your enjoyment (now with anti-static lubricant)”.
‘Down to the Water’ is a great Southern rock song. It starts the album off on a hopeful note lyrically: “Take me down to the water/Take me out of misery/Take me down to the water/Set me free/These memories, yeah, they’re living/In most everything that I see/Sweet memories, yeah, they’re living/They’ll set me free/Here I come/With a chance to rise”. ‘Postcards from Heaven’ is a melodic rock song about the bliss awaiting us in heaven: “I met the angels when they came to me this morning/All dressed in white, they said there’s nothing to fear/They showed me through a gate that led into a garden/When I looked back I saw the world disappear/They walked me down a long hallway/They took me into my room/They said I’ll be here forever/And I said I never wanna go back home/Wish you were here where the sky is so clear, I’m in heaven”.
‘One Man’ addresses someone who is spiritually lost: “Somehow you took a turn along the way/That left you standing in the cold/You might not understand the words I try to say/Until you open up your soul/Anyway that the wind blows/You’ll return with the season/Anyway that the wind blows/And you say that you don’t know ‘cause you can’t find a reason/So you go where the wind blows”. Next up is ‘The Arms of Morpheus’. According to Wikipedia.org “Morpheus has the ability to take any human form and appear in dreams. His true semblance is that of a winged daemon...” This song is a rock gem, with Helen Barrington-Ward credited with extraneous warbling. It is a highly experimental track both lyrically and musically: “Like Aphrodite’s kiss/The arms of Morpheus/Keep me so warm/It’s like I’m burning within/And Cupid takes my wrist/His arrows never miss/I’m on my knees and crawling out of my skin”.
‘Morning Glory’ features incredible electric guitar work and runs the emotional gamut lyrically: “Morning glory lifts me above the earth/Makes me look around and wonder what it’s worth/To see where my life is going/Trying to learn, but never really knowing/The garden down there is choked with weeds/I wanna go where the morning glory leads.../Morning glory promised me so many things/Before it snuck up behind me and stole my dreams/Poisoned my heart with sorrow/Left me to beg and borrow/And ran off with truth that won’t be back tomorrow”. ‘She Knows It’ muses about a member of the fairer sex: “She says she’ll try to make me believe this/She says we’ll live in aquamarine/She knows it’s hard to believe what she says/She says she thinks that she knows me/It’s hard to imagine the things in her head/But she’ll show me”.
‘I Want it All’ begins with a sample that says: “We strongly recommend that you stand back when playing this track”. This straight up rocker portrays a man of great ambition: “I wanna stand in the sunlight/I wanna sleep in the rain/I wanna walk the line between pleasure and pain/I’m gonna circle the courtyard/I’m gonna cast the first stone/I’m gonna rattle the ground where they sit on their thrones/My head’s in the sun/I’m a thousand feet tall/When you wanna run/Why waste time learning to crawl?/I want it all (2X)/With my head on the ground/I hear destiny call”. Ivar Eidem plays synths on ‘Then You’re Gone’. This one is a ballad that deals with human mortality in a dreamy, inventive manner: “Take a shot at the pale moon/Hitch a ride on the powder balloon/Cotton candy along the way/Then you’re gone, you’re gone/And when I’m turning on the news they’ll let me know/When they’re walking in your footsteps, it’s your show/I know you know, you know that I know that you want to go/I didn’t think you meant it though (5X)”.
‘What am I Looking For’ is one of the best songs on the album. At times it is an aggressive rocker, at other times it is more laid back. It ponders the meaning of life, but will upset some Christians as it leaves room for various beliefs: “Excuse me sir/Can you tell me how to get from here to there?/Cuz it’s getting quite upsetting never getting anywhere/We’re on the road from the day we’re old enough to crawl across the floor/We laugh, we cry, we live, we die/there must be something more/No matter where I am/No matter where I roam/I can’t help feeling like I’m a long, long way from home/Like a kid who’s got no money, standing in a candy store/What am I looking for?”
‘First Kiss of Love’ reflects with fondness on love long past: “You send me messages that I’ll never get/You turn your back but you will never forget/I’ll be there waiting at the end of the day/To remind you.../As years fly away with the wings of the dove/Your dearest remembrance will still be the last/Your sweetest memorial/The first kiss of love”. ‘The Long Road’ is a plodding rock song over six minutes in length. It draws this realistic, though not upbeat, conclusion: “I’ve heard that all is fair in love and war/Whichever this is I don’t quite know/Maybe sometimes they’re one and the same/When there’s nowhere left for love to go/I saw it coming and should have known/That in the midst of love I’d still be on my own/And that I’d have to face that long hard road alone”. If you let the album continue to play a few short, silent tracks after this, you will be treated to Larry Norman putting his vocals and spin on ‘Down to the Water’ and ‘I Want it All’.
HI-FI DEMONSTRATION RECORD is good, fun rock and roll music masterfully performed. The vocals are easy to listen to and the album is quite experimental and innovative. If you are tired of the same old, same old on today’s daytime Christian radio, check this album out. It will renew your interest in music again. It is an album that is full of life and promise! I’m rating it 95%. For more info visit: www.larrynoman.com.