Mental Overdrive first released a series of vinyl EPs and singles on now legendary Belgian techno label R&S Records in the early nineties. This early material ranged from nosebleed industrial euro-ebm-techno to romantic electro ballads, and caused a lot of praise as well as raised eyebrows from Berlin to Detroit at the time. In 1995, after relocating to Oslo, the label Love OD Communications was set up to release the first Mental Overdrive album – “Plugged” – followed by the seminal limited run of it’s mute bastard brother “Unplugged” a year later. A couple of singles then surfaced on Virgin Records in the late nineties, before the album “Ad Absurdum” was released in 1999 – also by Virgin.
The Mental Overdrive project then went kind of quiet in the early noughties, as Martinsen focused on his other engagements in Anglo-Norwegian hippie house duo/remix team Illumination/Chilluminati and electropop duo Frost .
The exceptions to this were a string of remixes showing up in between other activities – of which the most hard to get hold of is the Mental Overdrive remix of Isolée’s “Beau mot plage” – a smashing dubby discoid ska-electro number that was released as a 12” single in 90 (!) copies on Music Man Records, before the license was pulled by Playhouse under mysterious circumstances.
In 2003 the “Me EP” suddenly surfaced on Love OD Communications, and a year later the album “083” was released in Norway and on occasional export in association with Norwegian noise-jazz-electro-rock label Smalltown Supersound. The title “083” was based on Martinsen’s Northern Norwegian hometown Tromsø’s old telephone prefix in the eighties – a time when he grew up in his arctic surroundings listening to British and German synthpop, Kraftwerk and early electro.
The retrospect compilation “The Phuture that never happened” was released in 2005, also in conjunction with Smalltown Supersound. This album consisted of all the tracks from the early R&S 12inch series, remastered and tastefully re-packaged, sporting Martinsen’s own creation, the “Pongstation” as cover star.
Electro-disco smasher “Diskodans”, featuring 76-year old Finnish dance instructor Åke Blomqvist (of internet disco instruction guide video fame) was released in the summer of 2005, with remixes by Bjørn Torske, Prins Thomas and Tufan Demir. The initial run of 12inch singles were quickly sold out, and is now a much sought-after record.
The last couple of years has seen some more remix work surfacing, nu-kraut darlings 120 Days’ “Come out, come down, fade out, be gone” was given the Mental Overdrive treatment to much acclaim and more recently the 12inch single “Spooks/Original Material”, released on Prins Thomas’ Full Pupp imprint in the spring of 2007.
An experimentation with releasing his master tapes in single copies on eBay for the track ‘Elephantastic’ put Martinsen in the middle of the non-stop debate on where the new music industry is heading, and a string of new Mental Overdrive releases are lined up for the near future, both through Love OD and other labels such as Full Pupp whilst his cover version of Iron Maiden’s “Run to the hills” was licensed to Airtight Recordings to much acclaim last year.