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Elephant9 - Elephant9 with Reine Fiske: Atlantis CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.84 | 47 ratings

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4 stars Norwegian trio Elephant 9 offer their most dense, complex and varied work to date with their third studio album `Atlantis'. Joined by quietly renowned guitarist Reine Fiske of Dungen, Landberk and the defining Paatos release with their debut `Timeloss', this instrumental album is endlessly delirious, aggressive and deeply immersive. The comparisons in the past to Emerson, Lake and Palmer are mostly vanquished, instead the band offer something far more deranged and messy, very heavily psychedelic and, if anything, some evocative and subtle ambient passages and wilder sonic outbursts share more in common with Krautrock, a factor only deliciously highlighted by the stripped back and occasionally murky production.

With an ominous foghorn-like beckoning and a rattle of intent, opener `Black Hole' tears the album to life, a battery of ferocious unceasing pummelling drums, blitzkrieg Hammond, Fender Rhodes and piano runs and bass so thick it's virtually a slab of concrete, all lurching in and out of the dirtiest of unexpected grooves. `The Riddler' opens crystalline and dream-like before racing through a propulsive heavy groaning blast of Hammond fury, with a tasty spiralling Rhodes melody weaving around. Fiske now enters the album for the twelve minute title track, a gradually unfolding kraut/heavy psych improvisation of droning guitar and Hammond organ atmospheres that initially reminds of little traces of the spiritual era Santana band albums and early Pink Floyd, before taking a darker turn with a building drum-beat, stalking bass, unhinged electric piano and distorted guitar grinding bristling with danger.

The gentle acoustic guitars and shimmering electronics of `A Foot in Both' call to mind both the early Agitation Free and Popul Vuh albums, and the aptly named ten minute `Psychedelic Backfire' is an infernal march of harsh electronic drones and crushing plodding electric guitar doom before settling into slinking bass and Hammond grooves. `A Place in Neither' is an almost funky and brisk fusion interlude, and the album closes on a near-fourteen minute jam `Freedom's Children', a frantic, fun and relentless crash of acid rock fuzzy wailing guitar fire, thrashing driving beats, swirling keyboard violations and grumbling pulsing bass all swept up into a vacuum of noise.

`Atlantis' demands endless replays to truly appreciate, an Initially quite intimidating work that takes it's time to reveal so many subtle layers in amongst all the noise and bluster. It's sure to be a more divisive work for followers of the band, and probably those interested in the E.L.P-like qualities often associated with the group will be in for a bit of an abrupt shock, and very likely may want to put their heads through the wall! But the album is an absolute triumph of exploratory heavy prog, and is Elephant 9's defining statement to date.

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |


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