Reviews 2095

Cripes! This fusion-loving Norwegian trio, led by Supersilent´s Ståle Storløkken, just erased the last 30 years in a blur of drumsticks and wizard beards. Opening track: Nikolai Eilersten´s bass, phased to quicksilver, lays down the slippery hook, while Torstein Lofthus´s drums feint round him, shuffling the 16ths like a dexterous croupier. Finally the crowning glory, Storløkken´s overdriven Hammond, stutters a few acid chords and howls into action with an angular bop-line half Thelonious Monk, half Keith Emerson. All of which may give some listeners cause for consternation. Cast it aside! Elephant9´s jazz rock is bullshit free, shorn of fatty concept and mystic twaddle. It´s the anit-Hypnagogia, wide awake and hyper, wielding technique as energy-conduite without an ounce of braggartry.
The Wire (UK)

Dynamic, proggy synth-fug from Nordic organ grinders. Norwegian keyboardist Ståle Storløkken is best known for his contributions to Supersilent. Here, with bassist Nikolai Hængsle Eilersten and drummer Torstein Lofthus, he´s let off the chain to indulge a gluttonous appetite for gnarly Hammond organ and Fender Rhodes effusions - his free-spirited power trio channel the restless spirits of Mike Ratledge, Brian Auger and Graham Bond. The whole session is recorded live, with an abrasive, overdriven edge, especially exhilarating on the opening "Fugl Fønix" and "Aviation", while "John Tinnick" winds up at a breakneck speed reminiscent of the early Soft Machine. 4/5.
Uncut (UK)

Elephant9 is an explosive organ trio fronted by Ståle Storløkken, who´s best known as a member of the idiom-smashing Supersilent. On the group´s powerful second album, its jazz-rock attack has gotten tighter and more ferocious, smashing together an unlikely mix of Deep Purple-style hard rock with the jazz-inflected sounds of Tony Williams´ Lifetime and early 70s Miles Davis. Drummer Torstein Lofthus drives the music with hard-hitting polyrhythms that fracture like glass and spread out like lava, while electric bassist Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen maintains thick grooves to give the band its sturdy foundation. That blend of freneticism and solidity proves perfect for Storløkken´s rangy improvisations, which create distorted shapes and angular lines on Hammond organ and Fender Rhodes to explode single-note flurries into dramatic supernovas. Despite the group´s sonic antecedents, Elephant9 avoids prog-rock bombast; its sound is huge, but there are no empty displays of technical virtuousity. On longer pieces like the title track and "Habanera Rocket", the trio reveals a keen dynamism, making effective use of space and lighter synthesizer textures to let some air into its monolithic, grinding vehicles. 4/5.
Downbeat (US)

Underpinned by the wild and edgy drumming of Torstein Lofthus, also member of jazz-metal loonbags Shining, Elephant9 are what happens when prog, jazz and the avant-garde collide with that distinctively dogmatic and abtruse Norwegian state of mind. Wholly instrumental and dominated by Ståle Storløkken´s arsenal of vintage keyboards, "Walk The Nile" is all about disorientating atmospheres, lopsided grooved and surrendering to a bad trip of epic proportions. At times, a strong whiff of Miles Davis´ "Bitches Brew" permeats the mix, but on the nimble skitter of "Hardcore Orientale" or the sandy-toed shuffle of "Habanera Rocket", Elephant9 suddenly transforms into a juddering, careering psychedelic funkband, replete with shades of the panicked momentum of Albert Elms´ music for "The Prisoner".
Prog (UK)

Elephant9 are well-travelled Norwegian hepcats Ståle Storløkken (keys), Nikolai Eilertsen (bass) and Torstein Lofthus (drums). Imagine an instrumental Deep Purple vibing on Acid Jazz. The rhythm section lay down a limber heavy funk, while Storløkken embarks on lysergic Fender Rhodes and proggy Hammond odysseys.
Mojo (UK)

A groove-laden, locomotive powerhouse. It should have immense crossover appeal. The track sequencing is immaculate, and the whole album is best absorbed in one straight, head-spinning draught.
The Jazzmann (UK)

Back again with a second serving of organ-led instrumental grooviness, Norwegian trio Elephant9 mix things up this time round by peppering their jazz-funk-psych workouts with some off-the-map detours into spaced-out mind expansion. After opening up with the busy 60s-styled Hammond bustle of "Fugl Fønix" and the prog-propelled catapulk funk of "Aviation", our intrepid travellers start to get stretched and cosmic with the album´s title track and centrepiece - a slow-climbing interstellar sidewinder that evokes the errant stargazing of Sun Ra and early Tangerine Dream. Back on solid ground again for the car-chase swiftness of "Hardcore Orientale" and high velocity closer "John Tinnick", another taste of the heavens comes in the shape of "Habanera Rocket", some fourteen minutes of rolling riffs and quicksilver keys circling an orbit impressively close to those once tracked by Soft Machine and Miles Davis on one of his many electrified highs.
Rock-a-Rolla (UK)

Powerful riff-laden organs of this ilk are not easily wielded but Elephant9´s Ståle Storløkken (he of Supersilent) does so originally, mixing heavy-funk and psychedelia with Eastern flavours that´d force The Mahavishnu Orchestra to revaluate their place in the cosmos. As well as exploiting elements of Tangerine Dream, everything from intense dirges to space jazz numbers are conjured. Few bands produce this sound well. Nobody however, seems to be doing it quite as well as this.
Shindig (UK)

While the debut album was coming out of electric Miles Davis - and included a version of Joe Zawinul´s "Directions" - this moves closer to hard rock, with the title track built around a rolling, doom-laden drum riff that would pass for Led Zeppelin´s John Bonham circa "When The Levee Breaks". The album´s not short of fast, furious and funky stormers - such as the gloriously unrestrained opener "Fugl Fonix" - but even these seem to come with a dark and brooding intensity that feels like the sound of brows knitting in concentration. It´s good to know someone´s taking things seriously.
Jazzwise (UK)

Whooo, listen to that filthy dirty Hammond, feel that organ throb, grab that delicious Lesley crunch as the flow of those six inch thick soundwave slabs come at you through the dusty air. The new Elephant 9 album just landed, this is a very very good thing! Walk The Nile starts out pretty much where the last one left off, opening track Fugi Fonix could be off the last album, moody atmospheric second track Aviation soon puts to rest any idea that the Norwegians may just be a one trick pony of a band though – thing is, even if they were a one trick pony a new album from Elephant 9 would still be a very good thing. Classic Hammond driven prog fusion and great big real deal analogue instrumental pieces on a direct line from somewhere in 1974. Flowing jazz flavoured progressive rock pieces that feel like well considered structured focused jams. Well focused is a relative term, they’re not afraid of a long piece (or two) of healthy prog rock self indulgence, a self assured style, tight accomplished musicians who just let it all naturally flow rather then feeling any kind of need to show off how good they are. There’s a darker edge to some of this than there was with the first album, or maybe just a few more changes in atmosphere, in the texture and the way the whole body of work flows as it undulates between the stabs of Hammond organ energy and Fender Rhodes craft. Another thrilling ride through the glories of organ driven 70’s sounding jazzy prog rock, bits of funk, Deep Purple sounding hard rock jams, and more notes that you can reasonable expect to be coming at you none stop in such a gloriously good way, oh yes, a new Elephant 9 album is a very very good thing.
The Organ (UK)

Driven boldly along by the versatile and edgy drumming of Torstein Lofthus, who´s also a member of skronk-metal nutjobs Shining, this Norwegian Trio are one of the weirdest and most intense things to emerge from the Scandinavian jazz scene in years. Their current album "Walk The Nile" is a warped and inventive showcase for their unique blend of rippling Rhodes and Hammond organs, arse-quaking bass and fidgeting percussion. It´s the perfect soundtrack to a descent into madness.
Bizarre (UK)

Scandi-jazz/psychedelic prog/cosmic rock of the first order from this brilliant Norwegian trio, who let rip with hammering Hammond and rippling Fender Rhodes while waves of wiggy synth rain down. As 70s as wing collars and Cuban heels, it´s also thoroughly moderne, blasting Cluster and Robert Fripp intoa thrillingly featureless future via Finnish dude Jimi Tenor. Bra gjort!
Time Out (UK)

Norwegian prog-jazzers funky second album. While there´s a formula at work - a driving, rhythmic maelstrom with propulsive shards of organ thrown in - it avoids predictability, as when the breakbeating title track evokes horror-film atmospheres. Admirers of 2008´s "Dodovoodoo" will be thrilled by this head-spinning amalgam of the avant-garde and the havin´it.
Q (UK)

The density of great musicianship in Norway never fails to dazzle. This album imagines a world in which Hendrix and Miles Davis are the Beatles and the Stones, and playing extended Hammond-led jazz-rock jams is as natural as breathing. This dances rings around Polar Bear or any comparable British attempt at similar stuff.
The Artsdesk (UK)

Unless you’re strictly a jazzer, it’s been incredibly uncool since the 70s to show off your musicianship. But don’t tell that to Elephant9. The Norwegian power trio brings every iota of its technical ability to bear on its instrumental tunes, with keyboardist Ståle Storløkken’s flashy keyboards leading the charge. Reminiscent of forebears like Emerson, Lake & Palmer and the Mahavishnu Orchestra or contemporaries like Medeski Martin & Wood and the Bad Plus, Elephant9 plays its psychedelic prog jazz with near total abandon. On “Aviation,” “Hardcord Orientale” and “Habanera Rocket,” the band sounds less like it’s trying to shove its talent up your nose and more like it’s having a blast letting itself run wild. That energy and spirit makes Walk the Nile more than just an exercise in self-pleasure.
Big Takeover (US)

Dieser Elephant weiss, wie man ein dichtes, steady vorwärtstreibendes und immer schneller werdendes Rockgedröhn entfachen kann, das schön luftig bleibt. In dem Titelstück irrt die ächzende Hamond immer drohender über einem  tiefdunklen, rockenden Urgrund, aber das ist erst der Anlauf zu Hardcore Oriëntale. Da legt das Trio noch einen rasenden Zahn zu und zieht mit schwerem wie unregelmäßigem Beat, mit staubbedeckter Orgel und einer wunderbar dumpfig pulsierenden Bassgitarre weiter. Samt Luftspiegelungen und grossartigen Ausblicken. Ausblicke, aus denen dann die Karawane von Habanera Rocket aufsteigt und langsam, aber naufhaltsam wie eine Tornadosäule näherrückt...
Jazz Magazine (NL) wandelt es beim Marsch über den Nil auf eigenständigen Wegen in die Zukunft dessen, was man einst Fusion oder Artrock nannte. Spätestens nach dem dritten Anhören erschließen sich Groove und Größe dieser Musik, ein Beweis für die Zukunftstauglichkeit der alten Hammond.
Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE)

...aber den richtigen Düsensound macht erst Ståle Storløkken mit Hammond-Georgel, Fender Rhodes und Synthesizer. So wie der Supersilent- & Humcrush-Mann da die Tasten drückt, hat er nur einen Vorläufer, den Ägyptenfahrer und Kosmonauten Sun Ra. Bis zu den Ellbogen knetet Storløkken die Soundmassen wie ein Hausmetzger den Blutwurstteig. Seine Partner rocken und rocken, knattern und rattern, hier geht alles Tempo Tempo. Die Orgel aber schnauft, als müsste eine Boeing mit den Flügel flattern, um vorwärts zu kommen. Dabei hält sie sich mit erhabener Eleganz in der Luft, vielleicht etwas altmodisch, aber so großartig, wie es heute, wo 1000stel Sekunden über Stil zu triumphieremeinen, weit und breit nur selten noch zu finden ist.... Elefantös!
Bad Alchemy (DE)

...sonst wäre soviel Psychedelic nicht denkbar. Ansonsten lauten die Devisen recht eindeutig: Die Hymne lebe hoch, das Pathos nehme zu, das Auftragen werde dick!. Jon!! oh!!! Lord!!!! Und was für ein waghalsiger Mut zum Verstoß gegen die öde Konvention des guten Geschmacks kennzeichnet dieses Triumvirat, das auch den Krautrock als Beilage nicht verschmäht. Rick Wakeman, Erwachet! Keith Emerson, Fittipaldi! Elephant9? Ein Mammut kehrt zurück.
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