Music Reviews

Elephant9 Dodovoodoo

(Rune Grammofon) Rating - 9/10

Elephant9, the newest Norwegian revelation and an amazing power trio, has come into the spotlight with their debut album Dodovoodoo, released in June 2008. With Ståle Storløkken on keyboards, bassist Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen and Torstein Lofthus on drums, the group is tight, allowing the listener to bathe in their unity while taking progressive jazz to modern neighborhoods.

Fusing rock sensibility with experience and technique, they create a genuine dynamic improvisational groove. Storløkken maintains the 60’s and 70’s keyboard style and adds to Lofthus’ ever changing drum composition. We might be inclined to forgo jazz for its complexity… however; the title track Dodovoodoo grips our attention, keeping a high pace with rock rhythms and pure jam.

Storløkken’s Hammond organ is reminiscent of Weather Reports’ Joe Zawinul, with an almost abrasive Fender Rhodes sound. Considered to be one of Norway’s leading improvising keyboardists, collaborator in groups Supersilent and Box, he is undoubtedly the protagonist in Elephant9. Lofthus is relentless. One of the surviving members of Shining, free improv dominates his playing and everything is possible. Ranging from funk to rock to drum and bass, he rarely lets the energy decrease with what seems to be constant soloing during their psychedelic cacophony.

While the album is quite vigorous, we get to see all sides of the equation. Hymne brings a soft ambience to the album, allowing the listener to let down their guard, only to kick the levels up with Misdirection, a reference to Zawinul’s “Directions”. The references continue with Doctor Honoris Causa and Directions, contributing to their outer space feel and free jazz mantra.

The result is a fascinating, yet an easy-to-listen-to album, playable in the background, yet nagging in its head bobbing groove. Jazz enthusiasts will consider it to be a candidate for the best release in 2008, and non-jazz listeners can get into the genre easily with its modern take on old standards. An exemplary addition to any collection, Elephant9 dazzles with its unique take on musical density while maintaining a healthy amount of rock sensibility. You should purchase here.