'Greatest' as in 'worst' but only if you don't like prog/jazz explorations with lashings of Keith Emerson style organ playing. Elephant 9 certainly have 'chops'. They have been voted one of the best live acts in Norway and transcend jazz and rock with their wild improvisational playing. RIYL people playing instruments crazily to a very high standard.
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Just one more Elephant9 record. All you have to do is drive. I promise. If you’re into it, the cosmic persecutors have just put up ‘Greatest Show on Earth’, a sleuthing record detailing their prog-jazz in extra detailed slow. So slow and so serene is opener “Way of Return” that I feel as if I’m a detective trying to investigate a desert oasis. Slower, even, than their label pals Fire! and their recent brand of jazz doom, Elephant9 open this record with a masterclass in sparsity and atmosphere.
No Elephant9 record can be summed up in its topic sentence, and you can rest assured that their repetitions fluctuate wildly in pace and personality. The brood of “Way of Return” is replaced by “Actionpack1” and its gloopy, unforgivable synth, which moves chromatically towards the worst (read: best) parts of Emerson, Lake & Palmer and progfellows Gentle Giant. Overcast with oddly conflicting chords, which make the whole thing sound decidedly vampiric, Elephant9 keep us guessing into their abyss.
Any fan of Elephant9 and the history of shameful rock nerdship behind them should delight in this one, as I do: it reminds me of every record me and my dad ever bonded over, using the same tight-playing to make sense of some of the silliest and funnest timbres you’ll ever hear. How did that organ sound they use become so in vogue with the progheads? Somebody do a documentary, please.
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- Greatest Show On Earth by Elephant9
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