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Eiliff - Eiliff CD (album) cover





3.98 | 55 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars EILIFF was one of those rare German Krautrock bands that comfortably juggled the 60s psychedelic rock sensibilities of bands like Xhol Caravan along with a demanding jazz-fusion ethos as laid down by the Canterbury sounds of Soft Machine's "Third" era along with the energetic bombast of the Mahavishnu Orchestra. The band was founded in the late 60s by Rainer Brüninghaus (keyboards), Detlev Landmann (drums), Herbert J. Kalveram (saxophone), the Englishman Bill Brown on bass and the Persian Houschäng Nejadepour on guitar and sitar. The band name is totally gibberish but was formed in Cologne and was a contemporary of the more famous acts such as Can.

While EILIFF was one of those bands where all the members were on a different level in terms of mastering their instruments, the band was somewhat forced to play the hit making game by releasing the easy on the ears single "Ride on Big Brother / Day of Sun" before releasing this more adventurous true calling of an album. Through the four tracks that run through this self-titled debut, EILIFF displayed a relentless disregard for keeping things calm and cool and instead opted for a wild brazen burst of prog energy with tight instrumental interplay and stellar jamming sessions that allow all of the musicians to show off their technically infused chops. Many of the members found their way into EILIFF fresh out of various free jazz bands of the 60s where they honed their chops and mastered the art of lengthy epic compositions that were displayed in the contemporary progressive rock context.

The four tracks basically begin with the shortest which is the opener "Byrd-Night of The Seventh Day" which at only five minutes long is dwarfed by the 20 minute closer "Suite." While i'll assume the opener may refer to the jazz legend Charlie Byrd, it does not sport his samba and bossa nova flavored bebop and cool jazz in any way at all. Instead it delivers a complex infusion of complex progressive rock workouts with a rich tapestry of jazzy saxophone gymnastics and ample supplies of 60s psychedelic organ runs. Likewise the uncredited vocal additions provide yet another angular contrapuntal element to the bizarre mix of the instrumentation that finds the musicians somewhat existing in their own reality for much of the time but flawlessly come back into order when the musical flow demands it.

"Gammeloni" continues the complexities with a frenetic marching rhythmic drive that breaks only for some soft sultry jazz chill outs but the complex chord progressions keep this far from being an easy listening experience and the slower parts never last for long as EILIFF was infused with an energetic drive unlike the more laid back jazz-Kraut hybrids like Embryo who relied more on psychedelic detachment as their focus. EILIFF was about a heavy-handed approach that took the energy of the early heavy metal bands to heart. "Uzzek Of Rigel IV" is another bizarre track that sounds sort of what Gnidrolog would have been had they incorporated jazz as their focal point instead of folk music. The track takes the complexities up a few notches with a labyrinthine approach that is on par with some of the more angular techniques of the avant-prog artists that followed. Henry Cow comes to mind.

The final track "Suite" which takes up half of the album starts off as one of the more accessible tracks with a heavy guitar groove and sax accompaniment. Somewhat funky even. The track doesn't take too long to find its way into a pummeling display of hyperactive drumming bombast, a series of saxophone squawks that sound like a flock of demented parrots and a relentless organ drive that sounds like Soft Machine's "Third" on steroids and with almost 21 minutes of playing time you can only imagine the amount of variations that find their way into the mix. Surprisingly despite being the lengthiest track, it is also the one where the band plays most cohesively as a whole without the instruments taking too many liberties off of the main groove. This is also the track where Rainer Brüninghaus shows off his compositional skills where he includes symphonic orchestral touches, big band, wind orchestral skills and a surprise Raga-rock segment with the sitar having its moment in the sun.

EILIFF's debut seems to be an overlooked gem of the early 70s. This is a dynamic powerhouse of an album that is flawless in execution and brilliantly brimming with creativity and while Soft Machine, Xhol Caravan and others are clearly inspiring forces in the band's overall sound, EILIFF sounds like none of them and mastered the art of crafting its indelible stamp on the early jazz-fusion Kraut world of the German underground. Don't let the silly album cover throw you off. While it looks like the whole "Where's Waldo" thing may have started on this early 70s prog extravaganza, this is an amazing display of instrumental fortitude coupled with excellently delivered compositional prowess unlike any other of the era. This is totally recommended for those who love energetic displays of jazzy-prog that take a zigzagging labyrinthine approach through lengthy workouts without sacrificing the melodic ear hooks that offer some sort of emotional connection. This has been one of my favorites for a while. The band would record one more album titled "Girlrls" the following year before calling it quits woefully like too many other impressive groups from this era.

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |


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