Elephant9
Silver Mountain


4.5
superb

Review

by Underflow USER (24 Reviews)
January 30th, 2016 | 9 replies


Release Date: 08/21/2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Shape-shifting mountain

Psychedelic rock, at least the modern variety, has been consistently sabotaged by some members of the press and casual listeners alike as a poor man’s genre – a style of music rooted in the ”good old days” of Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane and the 13th Floor Elevators with nothing to say. They’re not entirely wrong. It seems increasingly difficult to find inventive, innovative acts operating within the confines of psych. From the dazed-out-pop of Unknown Mortal Orchestra to the far-out, volcanic jams of Earthless, these are essentially the same kaleidoscopic conjurations your parents heard in the ‘60s and ‘70s. “What’s next” is a question many bands of this ilk wrestle with, whether in the studio or deep in the lion’s den of music journalism. But Norway’s “best live band” Elephant9 brings a simple answer to the table: “just add jazz.” With “Silver Mountain,” Elephant9 rejects the pretense of modern psychedelia and embraces its namesake with arms and minds wide-open.

Minds-wide open seems like a good tagline for the record, as the band’s ingenuity is apparent from the get-go. Whereas the prototypical psych outfit contents itself to ride a colorful passage for all its worth, Elephant9 and Reine Fiske reject stagnation. Much like the genre’s namesake, compositions shift shape with regularity, evoking variegated hues and visual patterns. “Occidentali” snakes and slithers its way through curious, jazzy instrumentals before blanketing the audience with echoing washes of synth and guitar. The calm, however, quickly snaps into a spastic freak-out. Guitars, courtesy of Dungen’s Reine Fiske, rocket through the percussion’s inconstant gravity before dying out. Moments like these come in ready supply and almost always captivate. Though it should be obvious by now, it warrants clarification: this isn’t your parent’s psych. “Silver Mountain” doesn’t ride the strength of its instrumental creativity alone, though.

Both production and mixing play significant roles in the album’s success. Each instrument breathes in relative clarity, but makes allowance for the natural obfuscations warranted by the genre. Fiske’s guitar is given extra attention, piercing through moments of tranquility with a colorful, pin-point trajectory. Here, the music is vivid – vibrant, even – but never polished to a fine sheen. Centerpiece “Abhartach” pounds its way through an off-kilter groove dominated by side-step drum patterns and surreal, thick spikes of distortion. Elsewhere, the militant, pounding rhythms of “Kungsten” hammer down with serious gravity, weaving in-and-out of line while battering the listener. It’s noisy, often chaotic, but it sounds exactly as it should: evocative and engrossing. And really, if you can say a modern psych album is evocative and engrossing, not just a despondent and derivative addition to an overflowing canon, then you’ve got a winner.



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user ratings (4)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Underflow
January 30th 2016


3833 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

My third favorite album last year.

YetAnotherBrick
January 30th 2016


6691 Comments


woah, i totally missed this. i found Walk the Nile a while ago and loved it so i should prolly get on this. great review

Totengott
January 30th 2016


4132 Comments


Sounds like I have to check this out. Nice review.

Underflow
January 30th 2016


3833 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm sure a fair amount of Sputnik users would dig this, but this band has practically zero presence on the site.

Mad.
February 2nd 2016


4675 Comments


Great review man, inspired me to listen to this. Great stuff, very unpredictable / interesting

Have you listened to Fire! or Fire! Orchestra? Also good stuff in a similar vein

Underflow
February 3rd 2016


3833 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fire Orchestra is sweet, Mad, but I haven't heard their latest release if I remember correctly - only their debut.

Mad.
February 3rd 2016


4675 Comments


I've only heard their latest and it was fantastic

Love You Are The Sunshine of Your Life off this

bnelso55
February 23rd 2016


1265 Comments


Just discovering this.. and it's pretty awesome.

Underflow
March 8th 2016


3833 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Right on, man.



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