Elephant9 – Mythical River

Elephant9 – Mythical River

Norway’s Elephant9 return with a new album, guaranteed to pique your interest, and this is certainly the case for me having been on a writing hiatus due to the loss of my great friend and TPA editor Jez Rowden. So, it is this is the album that has given me the spark to start writing again due to it being rather excellent.

Elephant9 was formed in 2007 with their debut album Dodovoodoo, appearing the year after. I first came across the band when I reviewed their 2019 double live release, Psychedelic Backfire I & II, which captured their live reputation in the most wonderful way. Released in 2021 Arrival of the New Elders presented us with a more varied and structured approach to the music and it appears that Mystical River is cut from the same cloth, although they are still able to maintain that almost improv feel which has served them so well in the live setting.

The recording of Mystical River took place during October 2023 and mixing the mixing in January 2024, both undertaken at Kungsten Studios by Mattias Glavå. Mastering by Jørgen Træen at Duper Grotten during January 2024 and the production handled by Elephant9 and Mattias Glavå.

The album consists of eight tracks written by Slåle Storløkken except for Solitude in Limbo, which is credited to Storløkken/Hængsle/Lofthus/Glavå. The album is a listening and vinyl friendly thirty-six minutes in length, and they do not waste one moment of this time, excellent pacing with lots of interesting rhythms and sounds. Plus, it is an excellent demonstration of their individual musical skills, each player bringing his part to the whole. Despite all the band members having a wide range of other projects, it is clear from what you hear that “Elephant9 has always been their special baby”.

The opening track Solitude in Limbo #2, the first of two short cosmic soundscapes which bookend the album, is a rather atmospheric one, gently leading us up to the main body of the album. This is followed by the title track Mythical River, with a throbbing bass line supported by solid drums and Ståle’s keyboards gradually gaining traction and influence. This is a beautifully paced and controlled song where all band members shine.

With the next track Party Among the Stars they begin to up the tempo driving the song forward whilst maintaining tight control, the rhythm section again really shines here. In fact, throughout the album Elephant9 maintain their special blend of music to a high quality, excellent rhythms held down by the bass and drums, whilst allowing each to have their moment to the fore. Couple this with the wonderful keyboard flourishes from Ståle, creating both melody and unrestrained keyboard runs, goes on to make a heady mixture of excitement and enjoyment. The track Star Cluster Detective demonstrates so well what this band offers, a great keyboard intro with the drums and bass picking up the rolling pace. In turn this allows the keyboards to shine with different sound textures at times almost appearing to go a little crazy, but always remaining within the song structure created by the rhythm section.

Elephant9 have continued to develop their brand of instrumental jazz/rock with some Seventies influences throughout their albums, and they have maintained the quality from their previous releases. They appear to be on a steady creative peak, which I hope will continue, and this release is full of dynamic music which is under full control of a band that clearly love what they play. Repeated plays reveal hidden depths to what is an excellent album, give it a listen as it deserves to be widely appreciated.

01. Solitude In Limbo #2 (1:41)
02. Mythical River (8:07)
03. Party Among The Stars (6:17)
04. Chamber Of Silence (2:50)
05. Heading For Desolate Wastelands (5:57)
06. Star Cluster Detective (4:48)
07. Cavern Of The Red Lion (5:09)
08. Solitude In Limbo #1 (1:40)

Total Time – 36:32

Ståle Storløkken – Rhodes Piano, Hammond L100, Minimoog, Mellotron, Grand Piano, Celeste, Continuum
Nikolai Hængsle – Electric Bass
Torstein Lofthus – Drums, Percussion

Record Label: Rune Grammofon
Catalogue#: RCD2235 | RLP3235
Country of Origin: Norway
Date of Release: 19th April 2024

Elephant9 – Facebook | Info at Rune Grammofon | Bandcamp