Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Intersection: Elephant9

The Intersection is an occasional feature on JazzWrap that looks at artists that blend jazz with electronica (a tradition pioneered by none other than Miles Davis on such classic recordings as On The Corner and Bitches Brew).

Elephant9 (group; formed 2008)
Ståle Storløkken (organ, synths)
Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen (bass)
Torstein Lofthus (drums)

Elephant9 is a new trio established by Supersilent/Humcrush keyboard master, Ståle Storløkken. Ståle Storløkken as a vital part of both the aforementioned groups, becomes the focal point of his own trio in Elephant9. With incredible support from Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen and Torstein Lofthus, Elephant9 have created a retro-world influenced by Miles Davis' electric era led by Hancock and Zawinul, Weather Report, OM, Can and psychedelic swirls of German and Italian sexy horror flicks from the '60s.

Where Storløkken utilizies keyboards and other electronics in Humcrush and Supersilent, for Elephant9, Storløkken mainly focuses on his work with organ. And that organ drips with a heavy dose of Zawinul and possibly Larry Young.

Their first album, Dodovoodoo (Rune Grammofon, 2008) was exciting and a fiery blast out of the normally somber electronic work from this great label. Tracks like the funk-punk of "Dodovoodoo." "Directions" (Miles Davis/Joe Zawinul penned piece) and "I Cover The Mountain Top" all show how Storløkken has been influenced by the best of 70s era fusion. The album sparkles in it dense, moody, post-prog approach. While obviously paying homage it does demonstrate a 21st Century structure that few groups can master at the moment.

The new album from Elephant9 is Walk The Nile (Rune Grammofon) and delivers a heavy, funkier tone as demonstrated by the opener, "Fugl Fonix" and "Hardcore Orientale" which rips through your ears with blistering pace. While led by Storløkken's organ work, for me Hængsle Eilertsen's funky, chaotic bass steals the proceedings. "Aviation" while settling things down (a bit) still keeps the focus fast paced and in your face with some great electronic manipulation. Lofthus' timing throughout Walk The Nile is incredible. His work makes this much more than just a crazy prog meets jazz album. "Habanera Rocket" is another gentle giant of a track. It builds slowing on the interplay between Storløkken and Hængsle Eilertsen until it reaching a cacophonous conclusion that really takes on rock status. Walk The Nile is a great advance forward for the band.

Elephant9 is rock inspiration for the fusion jazz crowd. Elephant9 is also a avant garde jazz introduction for the rock crowd. This is heavy stuff and fun to listen to angry and even sober. Enjoy.

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