«Fifth» is the second album of the expanded edition of the Norwegian trio Krokofant with keyboards wizard Ståle Storløkken (of Supersilent, Elephant9 and Terje Rypdal bands) and powerhouse bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (of The Thing, Atomic and The Young Mothers), following «Q» (Rune Grammofon, 2019) and obviously, its fifth album. Krokofant began as a duo of Kongsberg-based guitarist and leader Tom Hasslan and drummer Axel Skalstad. Sax player Jørgen Mathisen was invited to join them for the sessions that produced the debut, self-titled album of Krokofant (Rune Grammofon, 2014). Storløkken had an «instant kick» after seeing Krokofant playing live in 2015 and immediately said yes to the invitation to play on «Q». Håker Flaten invited himself to play on «Q» after a few backstage beers with Krokofant so the band would have a proper rhythm section.
And «Fifth» was decided upon straight away after completing the recording of «Q». Hasslan wrote four new energetic pieces that embrace prog-rock (and the seminal sax and organ sound of Van Der Graf Generator) and skronk jazz. The pieces leave enough room for soloing and are perfect vehicles for Storløkken’s full scope of his mastery and the tight dynamics of the expanded Krokofant.
The opening piece, «Watcher of the Fries» cements the grand prog-rock sound of «Fifth», rich in complex, fast and dramatic harmonic structures and melodic hooks, but a sound that does not seeks the evoke the past – and you can add influences from King Crimson and the Mahavishnu Orchestra – and is totally anchored in the present. Storløkken adds depth and Håker Flaten injects manic power to the already muscular interplay of Krokofant. «Big Heavy Thing» has a raw, dirty sound that highlights the heavyweight grind of Storløkken, Håker Flaten and Skalstad and the unison soloing of Hasslan and Mathisen. «Five Flat Pennies» dives into an intoxicating groove, open to improvisation. The last «Pretty Prypan» builds its dramatic tension patiently, enables Hasslan’s soaring guitar and Mathien’s sax to tell the adventurous story before it melts into the powerful and intense electric storm of the expanded Krokofant.
In case that the Covid-19 vaccinations miss there is a good chance that healthy doses of Krokofant’s «Fifth» will supply the necessary boost.
Tom Hasslan (g), Axel Skalstad (dr), Jørgen Mathisen (ts, ss), Ståle Storløkken (keys), Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (el.b)