Elephant9 / Reine Fiske


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Elephant9's ability to whip up heavy-riffing psych-jazz like a lost transmission from the start of fusion were well established before Atlantis. But the inclusion of guitarist Reine Fiske adds another strong edge, thanks his work with Dungen, the Amazing, and latter-day Trad, Gräs och Stenar. Opener "Black Hole" starts with a doomy atmospheric tones and clattering drums before everything shifts toward heavy skronk/funk. It's pretty clear that the performers' intent isn't necessarily to surprise listeners, but to make the best case for their collective improvisational ability from the get-go -- and they do, several times over. Sometimes it's moments like the unintentional salute to Deep Purple's Jon Lord on "The Riddler," with Ståle Storløkken's organ dominating but never drowning out the band. Later, "Psychedelic Backfire" is a long, slow Hammond organ and growling rhythm section trip that more than lives up to its name. But it can be just as much a question of subtlety: the opening of "A Foot in Both" commences with soft acoustic guitar and distant atmospheric organ and percussive tones before the band gels and slowly but surely builds up from the ether into a pulsing mass of seductive sounds. On the title track, Fiske first appears on the album, underscoring his contribution to Elephant9 serenely while celebrating his personal debt of gratitude to David Gilmour and Pink Floyd circa Wish You Were Here. As the rhythm grows in intensity, the solos open up, ending the cut on a loud and beautiful note.

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