Elephant9 with Reine Fiske: Psychedelic Backfire II (Rune Grammofon/Southbound)

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Elephant9 with Reine Fiske: Psychedelic Backfire II (Rune Grammofon/Southbound)

With last year's Greatest Show on Earth by the Norwegian power-jazz trio Elephant9, we warned they were not for the faint of heart. They were muscular, offered hard-edge funk with prog-rock tendencies and peppered a bit of wry wit throughout.

But they connected at Elsewhere and so this one – with the legendary Swedish guitarist Reine Fiske who played with jazz saxophonist Jonas Kullhammar and is in the psychedelic Amazing – was always destined for a fair and curious hearing, even if we did miss the first installment of this Psychedelic Backfire.

The opener on this album – a considered but almost Vanilla Fudge-like exploration of Stevie Wonder's You Are The Sunshine of My Life – eases you into its 14-plus minutes through gloomy and portentous opening passages on organ (it's sunshine out of darkness) before being tickled into melodic life . . . but it isn't until more than five minutes in before it takes some serious shape with Hammond, drums and bass . . .  then a further minute until Fiske picks it up to push it towards a vibrant slice of constrained astral prog with pastoral then funky undertones from keyboard player Stale Storlokken.

It's a slow start on an album which then takes off with the more aggressive Skink/Fugl Fonix. Organ/keyboard players in this genre inevitably invite comparisons with Keith Emerson but Storlokken here obviously enjoys the interplay with the buzzing aggression of Fiske and the drive from the rhythm section.

These are all extended jams, just four tracks, nothing less than 14 minutes and the closer Freedom's Children/John Tinnick almost 19 with Fiske whipping out wah-wah on a hard rock groove.

They were recorded live during a four-day residency at the Kampen Bistro in Oslo and are perhaps of more interest to those along the rock route than even adventurous jazz listeners.

For most, that previous one Greatest Show on Earth might be the easier place to start this journey.

We placed that one under Jazz but this is posted here simply under Music. 

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