Take a contemporary classical composer, a failed improvising session, and a computer. Give the first term of the series three years to transform the second term using the third and you get the process that led to The 5th Elephant. In October 1997, Lutz Glandien (MIDI guitar), Michael Vogt (tuba), and Chris Cutler (drums) recorded a studio session they agreed to forget about. A year later the composer came back to the tapes, tore them apart in his computer, and put together 12 short pieces that owe very little in their final form to the music that gave them life. The process recalls to some extent Bob Ostertag's project Say No More, but Glandien's results follow more listener-friendly principles. The 5th Elephant could be described as an album of industrial techno and dark ambient with a subtle science-fiction atmosphere and an avant-garde edge. Some tracks clearly point in the direction of Nine Inch Nails ("Recall Zoom 3," "Show Tools"), something that should surprise any follower of Cutler's activities. The beat-driven constructions are balanced out by more electro-acoustic-sounding pieces, some getting close to the realm explored by Peter Frohmader. Don't let the uninspired computer-related titles ("Close Song Without Save," "Tile Windows Horizontally") turn you down, as the music is not that cold and artificial. One the other hand, if you have a grudge against techno music, proceed with caution.
AllMusic Review by François Couture