Elephant9: Greatest Show on Earth (Rune Grammofon/Southbound)

 |   |  1 min read

Actionpack1
Elephant9: Greatest Show on Earth (Rune Grammofon/Southbound)

It has been some while since we introduced the Rune Grammofon jazz-and-elsewhere label out of Norway. And with this return bout we warn immediately that Elephant9 – a trio of psycho-keyboards, furious bass and jackhammer drums – are probably not for the faint of heart.

This is jazz as a power trio, and Elephant9 is apparently considered Norway's best live band. On the evidence here I do not doubt it.

The title however is interesting because buried within this energetic music is carnival-like sense of fun, as on Actionpack1 which sounds as if Emerson, Lake and Palmer had taken the Beatles' Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite and not classical music as their touchstone.

Rolling Stone magazine once said they blended the prog-rock of King Crimson and Yes with the fusion of Weather Report and Miles Davis' late Sixties/early Seventies electric music. And that seems fair . . . but with a dollop more of sometimes discordant rock energy and those punctuations of humour.

Keyboard player Stale Storlokken can wring aggressive guitar-like textures out of his weapon of choice (check if you dare Farmer's Secret), the opener Way of Return works a soundtrack-like eerie progression and is -- aside from the menacingly excellent Mystery Blend later on -- the most restrained/constrained piece among the six tracks, and Dancing With Mr E get's a punch-funk groove going and comes off like the music for a very odd film about circus freaks running amok in a music store.

Fittingly the final piece is Freaks.

Nope, not for those who like their jazz comfortable and cohesive, but a magnificently energetic outing for those who have enjoyed free jazz, prog rock and doses of disturbing soundtracks.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz articles index

Cecile McLorin Salvant: Dreams and Daggers (Mack Avenue/Southbound)

Cecile McLorin Salvant: Dreams and Daggers (Mack Avenue/Southbound)

Although this Grammy-winning jazz singer is probably on very few people's scanner right now, no doubt that will change in the run-up to her appearances at the New Zealand Arts Festival in... > Read more

Miroslav Vitous Group: Remembering Weather Report (ECM)

Miroslav Vitous Group: Remembering Weather Report (ECM)

With the reunion of Chick Corea and John McLaughlin; bassist Stanley Clarke back with another trio album with pianist Hiromi and drummer Lenny White; Clarke, Corea, White and guitarist Al Di Meola... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

GUEST WRITER CHRIS BOURKE considers the early career of Randy Newman

GUEST WRITER CHRIS BOURKE considers the early career of Randy Newman

It took only four notes – one introductory bar – of a Randy Newman song, and I knew that I was in for the long haul. The song was Sail Away, and that was over 30 years ago. Since... > Read more

YVES SAINT LAURENT (2013): Our man in Marrakech

YVES SAINT LAURENT (2013): Our man in Marrakech

While there's no argument about the genius of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, the jury is still out over his artwork. In my family, at least. After a visit to Jardin Majorelle in... > Read more