«Arrival Of The New Elders», the title of the ninth album of the Norwegian trio Elephant9 – keyboards wizard Ståle Storløkken (of Supersilent fame, also a member of Møster! and Humcrush), bassist-guitarist Nikolai Hængsle (who also plays in Needlepoint and Band Of Gold) and drummer Torstein Lofthus (who is involved in numerous bands, ranging from pop and soul to free jazz) – hints about its reflective, and, obviously, mature spirit. The first studio albums and the recent live ones of Elephant9 presented this power trio as a high-energy, jam-oriented unit who mixes pyrotechnic rock with a free jazz mentality. But the seven new compositions of Storløkken and another one by Hængsle are more structured and shorter, compared to previous standards of Elephant9.
Storløkken focuses on «Arrival Of The New Elders» on the electric Rhodes piano and its vintage sound defines and intensifies the cohesive, retro-reflective sound of the album. The strong rhythm section of Hængsle and Lofthus cook spacious, more funky grooves, but the trio’s interplay is still tight as it ever was. The album was recorded at Studio Paradiso in Oslo in September 2020, with early Dungen producer Mattias Glavå handling the mixing duties (Elephant9 collaborated before with Dungen’s guitarist Reine Fiske).
The opening title-piece throws Elephant9 to the prog-space-fusion era of the seventies, with its vintage, analog synths and the caressing sounds of the Rhodes piano, but its rhythmic logic belongs to the seductive heritage of rhythm n’ blues and funk. Hængsle’s «Rite of Accession» is the only piece here that offers a more urgent and spiky version of Elephant9, still relying on the early fusion sound of the Rhodes piano, but now matched with a powerful, percolating pulse.
The shorter pieces «Sojourn» and «Tales of Secrets» float gently in sensual, atmospheric skies and introduce the delicate, leisured atmosphere of «Throughout the Worlds». «Chasing the Hidden» suggests a mysterious, cinematic story, with its fast-shifting rhythmic detours. «Chemical Boogie» sends Elephant9 to an imaginary dance floor of the sixties with its addictive, funky groove. Elephant’s New Elders bid farewell with another leisured-atmospheric piece, «Solar Song», stressing that this baby elephant has traveled far, in space and in time.
Ståle Storløkken (Rhodes, Hammond, p, eminent 310, mellotron, continuum), Nikolai Hængsle (b, g); Torstein Lofthus (dr, perc)