Elifantree manage to sound eminently like themselves yet at the same time utterly surprising on their album Hachi. The title means ‘eight’, a reference to the fact that the album was recorded in eight countries and with eight drummers. (See also the article by Wif Stenger here).
There seems to be no bounds to the sheer imagination poured into the sound worlds and effects inhabiting this album. The multi-instrumental skills and electronic experiments of Anni Elif and Pauli Lyytinen colour each track. Every one of the eight drummers makes an important contribution, both culturally and musically. Although they represent very different styles, the album is a coherent entity where the tracks support each other. Plenty of space is given to instrumentation and vocals, the best example of this being Fönsterrutorna [Window panes], where Danish percussionist Lisbeth Diers provides a rhythmic foundation that supports the (mainly sax) solos.
Swiss drummer Julian Sartorius delivers an ultra-precise drum track in Clockwork, true to the title. The improvised parts on electronic instruments create an odd sort of tranquillity in the listener, as the underlying pulse confidently goes on unchanged – until it becomes distorted, slows down and ultimately stops.
The tracks on this album allow room for improvisation, but there are features such as the melodic vocal lines and multi-tracked sax in Gold Dust, recorded in Sweden, that keep the listener well rooted. Mixtape, recorded in the UK, relies on drummer Marc Pelli underpinning the evocative vocals and synthesisers. Kajahdus [Echo], The Lounge and Chorale for Mormor offer us glimpses of the band’s road trip – experiments with vocals and instruments, and birdsong from the natural environment.
In Shibuya Film Noir, the gentle sax improvisation balances the rapid drumming of Ryosuke Kiyasu. The track ends with an electronic soundscape that takes off into the atmosphere. There is also an experimental vibe in the other track recorded in Japan, Spirit of Shinjuku.
Mausoleum I and Mausoleum II, recorded in an actual mausoleum in Norway, showcase the special acoustics of the venue. Reverb plays a major role on these tracks, and together with sound engineer Joonas Saikkonen the band makes excellent use of it in tying improvised strands together. The band members revel in the acoustics, proceeding unhurriedly and with respect. Concluding the disc, Mausoleum II provides a moment of respite for the listener; it is without question the best track of all. And still I want to hear more!
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi