Elephant9 – Greatest Show on Earth (2018)

Elephant9 - Greatest Show on Earth (2018)
Artist: Elephant9
Album: Greatest Show on Earth
Genre: Jazz Rock / Fusion
Label: Rune Grammofon
Year Of Release: 2018
Quality: FLAC (tracks)

Tracklist:
1. Way of Return (5:27)
2. Actionpack1 (6:30)
3. Farmer’s Secret (5:20)
4. Dancing with Mr. E (5:27)
5. Mystery Blend (6:16)
6. Freaks (6:55)

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Personnel:
– Ståle Storløkken / Fender Rhodes, Hammond, grand piano, Mellotron, synths (Minimoog, Eminent 310), composer
– Nicolai Hængsle Eilertsen / bass
– Torstein Lofthus / drums, percussion

With:
– Pekka / bells

ELEPHANT9 is described as an offshoot project from members of Norwegian groups Shining and Supersilent, but this recent album is already their fifth, so it seems to be a permanent project. In previous albums the trio of keyboardist Ståle Storlökken, bassist Nikolai Haengsle and drummer Torsten Lofthus were joined by guitarist Reine Fiske, but now it’s just the three of them again. Actually this information and all these artists are brand new acquantances to me.

The music is progressive and organic instrumental fusion leaning towards avant-garde. Main composer Storlökken plays Hammond, Rhodes, piano, Eminent 310, Mellotron and Minimoog, perhaps the Hammond being the most present of them. The rhythm section is one of the most powerful I’ve heard in a while. The opening track ‘Way of Return’ is in a slow tempo, concentrating on a slightly creepy atmosphere, while ‘Actionpack 1’ is very hectic. Mellotron makes me think of King Crimson tracks such as the second album’s instrumental ‘Devil’s Triangle’. ‘Farmer’s Secret’ features thick Hammond sounds familiar from the late 60’s – early 70’s organ-oriented prog and fusion, and also the Moog makes it feel very closely related to vintage progressive rock. This track is one of several highlights.

‘Dancing With Mr. E’ — like the album in general — is reminiscent of the most hectic Canterbury fusion (Egg, National Health), and it also contains a drum solo. What an energy from the whole trio! I’m not usually deeply fond of intense, avant-ish music but this album is a very positive surprise right from the first listening. ‘Mystery Blend’ is another slow and creepy track. One definitely cannot blame the album for sounding the same all the time. The dynamic variety and the vintage-sounding wide range of keyboards both guarantee that listening to this 36-minute album is an exciting ride. The unpredictability meets groove and the pure joy of playing. If you enjoy organ-centred fusion and want some wild energy, remember the name ELEPHANT9.
Review by Matti, progarchives

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