All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

106

Elephant9: Live at the BBC

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Despite the re-emergence of vinyl as a once-again acceptable medium, it's still bigger in some countries than others. In Norway, there are now labels that are releasing vinyl-only editions, including the intrepid Rune Grammofon, which introduced its The Last Record Company a couple years back, with limited-run albums including guitarist Stian Westerhus' Galore (2009) and equally experimental vocalist Maja S.K. Ratkje's Cyborgic (2009). Elephant9's Live at the BBC, on Rune's main imprint, is somewhat more modest—lacking TLRC's 16-page art booklets and gatefold, but pressed on white vinyl, and it's still great to see Kim Horthøy's designs on a larger-than-life 12"x12" single sleeve—though with a limited run of only 500 copies, it's still got plenty of cachet, especially since E9 is one of the more exciting electric outfits to come out of Norway in the last half decade.

A collaborative power trio with Supersilent/Humcrush keyboardist Ståle Storløkken, bassist Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen (BigBand, The National Bank) and drummer Torstein Lofthus (Shining, Mathias Eick), Elephant9 burst onto the scene with 2008's Dodovoodoo, mixing the visceral drive of drum legend Tony Williams' influential fusion group Lifetime (featuring organist Larry Young) with progressive rock tinges and trace elements of keyboardist Joe Zawinul—even closing out its debut with two of the Weather Report cofounder's better-known compositions, "Directions" and "Dr. Honoris Causa." If Dodovoodoo was an exceptional debut of harsh sonics and interactive firepower, 2010's Walk the Nile further honed E9's sound, as it moved exclusively to Storløkken's original compositions. So why, then, would Rune Grammofon release a vinyl-only title from a group clearly on an upward trajectory?

Live at the BBC is not so much a primary release for Elephant9 fans; that comes later this year, with its next studio record. Instead, this live recording, originally broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Jazz on 3, is more a supplement, capturing the trio in positively nuclear form on two tracks each from Dodovoodoo and Walk the Nile. With Storløkken eschewing synths and working solely with Fender Rhodes and Hammond organ, three of the four live versions clock in at roughly the same length ("Dodovoodoo" the only exception at twice the studio version's running time), so it's not so much a matter of expanding on the originals as it is approaching them with even greater collaborative energy. The opening "I Cover the Mountain Top," with its gritty, ring modulated Rhodes, takes less time to build its hypnotic, backbeat-driven groove, but when the trio kicks things up a notch or ten and Storløkken's equally overdriven Hammond fires up—reminiscent of Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Keith Emerson, but with less "look at me" chops and a greater emphasis on the collective—it's early notice that live, Elephant9 is one fierce, thundering force with which to be reckoned.

Elephant9 rocks with unfettered energy and reckless abandon, despite there being structures to which the trio adheres. When Robert Fripp referred to his King Crimson studio recordings as "love letters" and live shows a "hot date," he could just as easily been describing Elephant9, whose Live at the BBC is the kind of breathtakingly relentless encounter to which many aspire, but few achieve.

Track Listing: I Cover the Mountain Top; Dodovoodoo; Aviation; Habanera Rocket.

Personnel: Ståle Storløkken: Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ; Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen: electric bass; Torstein Lofthus: drums.

Title: Live at the BBC | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Rune Grammofon

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Atlantis

Atlantis

Rune Grammofon
2012

buy
Live at the BBC

Live at the BBC

Rune Grammofon
2012

buy
Dodovoodoo

Dodovoodoo

Rune Grammofon
2008

buy

Related Articles

Read Dirt...And More Dirt CD/LP/Track Review
Dirt...And More Dirt
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Brother Raymond CD/LP/Track Review
Brother Raymond
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Frescalalto CD/LP/Track Review
Frescalalto
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Motion CD/LP/Track Review
Motion
by Geannine Reid
Published: May 22, 2018
Read El Duende CD/LP/Track Review
El Duende
by Chris Mosey
Published: May 22, 2018
Read Vol II CD/LP/Track Review
Vol II
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 21, 2018
Read "Desert Pulse" CD/LP/Track Review Desert Pulse
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 30, 2017
Read "Rediscovered Ellington" CD/LP/Track Review Rediscovered Ellington
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 4, 2017
Read "Codex" CD/LP/Track Review Codex
by Doug Collette
Published: December 3, 2017
Read "Live 1972" CD/LP/Track Review Live 1972
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 5, 2017
Read "2" CD/LP/Track Review 2
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 19, 2017
Read "Cosmic Playground" CD/LP/Track Review Cosmic Playground
by Don Phipps
Published: February 20, 2018