Elephant9 - Dodovoodoo
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Just about the time I'm beginning to think that maybe the whole Rune Grammofon supergroup thing is about to run into a bit of a rut creatively, along comes Elephant9 and kicks me in the sternum and tells me to suck it up. Comprised of Ståle Storløkken (Supersilent, Humcrush) on keyboards, Nikolai Eilertsen (The National Bank) on bass and Torstein Lofthus (Shining) on drums, this power trio makes a heck of a ruckus while blending everything from android funk and psych rock to hard prog and herky-jerky jazz together into one righteous stew.

Oh, and the best part is that it really doesn't sound like anyone else on the label. They're incredibly tight, with much less of an improvisational feel than a lot of the work on the label, and this debut is almost a perfect blend of shorter moments that let you catch your breath and full-throttle instrumental brawling that's among the best stuff I've heard this year. The other big difference is apparent right from the opening track of "Dodovoodoo," and that's that (largely) instead of analogue synths, Storløkken is rocking none other than a Hammond organ and Fender Rhodes this time out. Said opening track finds him on the organ, and the result is an absolutely meaty, organic squeal that blends perfectly with the hard-driving rhythm section to form a massive jazz throw-down that basically thrashes away for five minutes solid, sounding something like Jimmy Smith leading a trio on steroids.

"I Cover The Mountain Top" starts out sounding more like Supersilent, as Storløkken mingles some shimmery synths with sparse drums and bass, but eventually some hard Rhodes blends in as well as the tension ratchets up slowly, morphing from a mellow Herbie Hancock-style number into a latter third that again finds the three unleashing some fury. As mentioned above, there are a few less rambunctious moments, and they hit in the right spots. "Hymne" drops about halfway through the album and basically plays out as the title states, with overlapping organ and synth mixing with some subdued guitar.

I'm not quite sure whether it's the different instruments used or the lineup (probably a bit of each), but Dodovoodoo is easily one of the most fun releases that I've heard on Rune Grammofon in some time and maybe ever. As mentioned above, they're not afraid to keep things a bit more subdued and let them evolve slowly (as they do on the epic "Doctor Honoris Causa"), but they also just sound like they're having a hell of a blast playing together as well. By the time the gut-rumbling "Directions" has closed things out, you'll likely just want to spin it all up again. If you haven't yet delved into the Rune Grammofon catalogue, please start now.

rating: 8.510
Aaron Coleman 2008-06-26 20:58:04