5

Elephant9: Atlantis

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Elephant9: Atlantis Ever a collective, Elephant9's Atlantis represents the Norwegian power trio's most egalitarian outing yet. 2008's Dodovoodoo and 2010's Walk the Nile were, for the most part, dominated compositionally by keyboardist and Supersilent/Humcrush coconspirator Ståle Storløkken. Atlantis is more evenly split between Storløkken's four tracks to bassist Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen's three, but most importantly demonstrates a continued evolution away from Elephant9's early touchstone—American drummer Tony Williams' influential Lifetime—towards ear-shattering, progressive rock-leaning, improv-heavy space rock, a fusion rendered even more nuclear by guitarist Reine Fiske, who guests on two-thirds of Atlantis' hour-long set.

Those who caught the 2012 Kongsberg Jazz Festival's All About Jazz Presents—where Fiske joined Elephant9 onstage for the first time in an absolutely incendiary set that was amongst the most talked-about shows of the series—know what to expect. Better-known in the progressive rock world for his work with Dungen and The Amazing, early Terje Rypdal is an important touchstone for Fiske, though the younger Swede's tone is all his own; similarly gritty and overdriven, but that is where any similarity ends. Team player rather than rock star poser; the soft-spoken guitarist is a perfect fit for the extraordinary members of Elephant9, who are less concerned with specific virtuosity and more about an end result where nobody stands out but everyone shines.

Storløkken's title track is a perfect example; an episodic piece that, at nearly 13-minutes, begins textural and tone poem-like, with Fiske's spare, harmonically overdriven lines hovering and occasionally soaring over Storløkken's grittily atmospheric Hammond organ and Eiltertsen's spartan, change-defining bass, evoking a near-hymnal ambience for nearly five minutes and building slowly, inevitably and, ultimately, climactically to Torstein Lofthus' entry. A powerhouse drummer who thunders on Shining's progressive-metal masterpiece Black Jazz (Indie, 2010), yet demonstrates equal parts nuance and groove-laden drive on trumpeter Mathias Eick's recent Skala (ECM, 2011), here he leans more heavily on the power side of the equation, pushing a relentless pulse telepathically locked in with Eilertsen while Storløkken shifts, first to percussive and overdriven Fender Rhodes and then back to Hammond, as the unfettered Fiske meshes with the keyboardist so seamlessly as to be almost—almost—indistinguishable. Elephant9's jamband aesthetic never sacrifices focus or direction, though, as the trio builds to a second climax, with a third section maintaining the frenzied energy but introducing a series of changes that build, build, and build, further still, to a finale—and then a fade-out—of epic proportions.

It's not all about eardrum-shattering fire, however; Eilertsen switches to layers of 12-string acoustic guitars for his "A Foot in Both," combining with Fiske's nylon-stringed musings and Storløkken's ethereal Hammond for a welcome respite; Lofthus' presence is only felt in its final 30 seconds, as the song fades into Storløkken's solo Hammond intro to the plodding and irrefutably heavy "Psychedelic Backfire."

If Storløkken's continued emergence as a musician of remarkable breadth has also been confirmed on Motorpsycho's The Death Defying Unicorn (Rune Grammofon) in early 2012, then Atlantis positions Eilertsen as incontestable electric bass threat. A retro-futuristic jam fest, Atlantis is a breath of fresh air—even if that air seems tinged with the unmistakable hint of THC.


Track Listing: Black Hole; The Riddler; Atlantis; A Foot in Both; Psychedelic Backfire; A Place in Neither; Freedom's Children.

Personnel: Ståle Storløkken: Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ, Minimoog, grand piano; Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen: electric bass, 12-string acoustic guitars (4), percussion (7); Torstein Lofthus: drums, percussion (7); Reine Fiske: electric guitar (3, 5, 7), nylon-string guitar (4).

Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Rune Grammofon


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "A Matter Of Instinct" CD/LP/Track Review A Matter Of Instinct
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 20, 2016
Read "Lea Áigi" CD/LP/Track Review Lea Áigi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 23, 2016
Read "Journey To The Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Journey To The Heart
by Jeff Winbush
Published: August 12, 2016
Read "Warsaw Concert" CD/LP/Track Review Warsaw Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: December 4, 2016
Read "Metamorphosis" CD/LP/Track Review Metamorphosis
by Dave Wayne
Published: July 12, 2016
Read "Black Shuck" CD/LP/Track Review Black Shuck
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 19, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!