Elephant9 is a jazz-rock power trio featuring keyboardist Ståle Storløkken of Supersilent, National Bank bassist Nikolai Eilertsen, and Shining drummer Torstein Lofthus. Though Storløkken plays Hammond organ on much of the disc, this is no Jimmy Smith or Big John Patton-style exercise in bluesy grooves; these three are decidedly more influenced by '70s rock, as the solos routinely head into territory previously explored by Deep Purple's Jon Lord and Keith Emerson (of Emerson, Lake Palmer infamy). Lofthus' drumming crosses Ronald Shannon Jackson's avalanche-like polyrhythms with the crushing metal power of Slayer's Dave Lombardo (no stranger to rhythmic intricacy himself), while bassist Eilertsen holds the groove down and drives the band forward in a way that's at-times reminiscent of Yes' Chris Squire, and also the Moody Blues' John Lodge. It's not all headlong assault-prog, either; the ten-minute title track delivers an extremely psychedelic keyboard exploration atop a heavy, almost locked groove from Eilertsen and Lofthus. "Hardcore Orientale" is noisy punk funk (not in the Red Hot Chili Peppers-circa-1985 sense, but in the sense of combining punk's single-mindedness with funk's unstoppable groove), while the near-15-minute "Habanera Rocket" is another adventurous journey that bridges the gap between Larry Young's Lawrence of Newark and Yes' Relayer. This is not an album for the faint of heart, and it's definitely not jazz, but it's well worth a listen. Phil Freeman, Rovi
- Jazz, Rock
- Big Band/Swing, Fusion
- Progressive Jazz, Alternative Pop/Rock, Jazz-Rock
- March 30, 2010
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