488

Elephant9: Walk the Nile

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Elephant9: Walk the Nile After a debut making it to more than one critic's "best of" list for 2008, Elephant9 returns with Walk the Nile. If Dodovoodoo demonstrated this keyboard power trio's affiliation for Tony Williams' late-1960s Lifetime and early Weather Report, mixed with a bit of progressive rock-era Keith Emerson, then Walk the Nile steps a tad further away from its core influences, further evolving Elephant9's definitive voice.

Keyboardist Ståle Storløkken's career has been on an upward trajectory since the mid-1990s and Veslefrekk, the trio that ultimately morphed into Supersilent with the recruitment of Helge Sten. Now a fixture across the breadth of the Norwegian scene, Storløkken continues to collaborate with everyone from fellow Supersilenter Arve Henriksen to iconic Norwegian guitarist Terje Rypdal's Skyward trio. But Elephant9 is the first group where, despite its egalitarian nature, the keyboardist is in something of a leadership position, with at least one of his stylistic predilections brought into sharp focus. Contrasting Dodovoodoo's combination of originals by Storløkken and bassist Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen with covers by Weather Report co-founder Joe Zawinul, the focus here is solely on originals, with five by Storløkken and one by Eilertsen.

Dodovoodoo's hard-edged, rock-inflected music with improvisational élan continues on Walk the Nile, an exhilarating combination of Storløkken's weighty keyboards, Eilertsen's thunderous electric bass, and the high octane approach of Shining's drummer, Torsten Lofthus. Storløkken focuses on grittily overdriven Fender Rhodes, equally dense Hammond organ, and a little synth thrown in for added color. Walk the Nile's fiery intensity still references its precedents, especially Lifetime's reckless abandon, but the same "check your egos at the door" aesthetic definitive of a Norwegian scene filled with virtuosic players who instinctively eschew "look at me" bombast makes Elephant9 a strangely selfless experience, with its inherent power coming from interaction and collaboration, rather than turgid self-indulgence.

Middle Eastern inflections may give the title track its name, but Eilertsen and Lofthus' slow, repetitive, backbeat-driven pulse turns it into a visceral 10-minute jam of gradually building intensity, as Storløkken layers spacey synth over dissonantly harmonized organ to create an almost impenetrable sound that feels loud at any volume. "Habanera Rocket" is Walk the Nile's longest track, fading in on faux samba, but with Storløkken's swirling Hammond, Eilertsen's buoyant bass, and Lofthus' tom tom-driven kit, this ain't your granddaddy's samba. It's not even your daddy's samba, as the trio kicks it into high gear half-way through, suddenly coming together for a unison passage that switches keys as the group gradually takes off for the stratosphere—spacey, but still possessing a maelstrom of an undercurrent.

The shorter tracks possess more definitive form, but even then it's clear that Elephant9 is an improvising band, albeit with a strong pulse and expansive palette. Ending at its fieriest with the bassist's "John Tinnick," Eilertsen and Lofthus move at a fast clip, while Storløkken's overdriven keys suggest how The Nice might have sounded with sharper teeth and less overt classicism. Sophomore releases are often a challenge, but with Walk the Nile, Elephant9 has delivered another powerhouse set sure to hit "best of" lists for 2010.

Track Listing: Fugi Fønix; Aviation; Walk the Nile; Hardcore Orientale; Habanera Rocket; John Tinnick.

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

Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Rune Grammofon


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Malnoia CD/LP/Track Review Malnoia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Get 'Em CD/LP/Track Review Get 'Em
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Radioactive Landscapes EP CD/LP/Track Review Radioactive Landscapes EP
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 24, 2017
Read Wake Up Call CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 24, 2017
Read The Many Minds of Richie Cole CD/LP/Track Review The Many Minds of Richie Cole
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: April 24, 2017
Read LifeCycle CD/LP/Track Review LifeCycle
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 23, 2017
Read "Live at the JazzRoom" CD/LP/Track Review Live at the JazzRoom
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 17, 2016
Read "Unfolding In Tempo" CD/LP/Track Review Unfolding In Tempo
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: October 6, 2016
Read "The Day After" CD/LP/Track Review The Day After
by David A. Orthmann
Published: February 14, 2017
Read "Projeto Brasil!" CD/LP/Track Review Projeto Brasil!
by Budd Kopman
Published: May 27, 2016
Read "Cactus" CD/LP/Track Review Cactus
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 26, 2016
Read "The Magnificent Thad Jones" CD/LP/Track Review The Magnificent Thad Jones
by Greg Simmons
Published: November 10, 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!