Elephant9 and Motorpsycho at the Borderline, 24/11/10


In lieu of an increasingly overdue London appearance by Supersilent, a performance featuring one of their (diminishing) number is clearly something to be snatched at. I got the impression that I was one of the few in this large crowd who had primarily come to see Supersilent keyboard player Ståle Storløkken’s 1970s jazz explosion, Elephant9. Most were here, no doubt, to see another Rune Grammofon band, and possibly the only one even more popular than Supersilent themselves: Deathprod’s old band, Motorpsycho. It felt like the entire Norwegian population of London was crammed into the subterranean Borderline.


If Supersilent can be a particularly serious proposition, a live show by Elephant9 feels the place where Ståle Storløkken comes to let his hair down (figure of speech, as you can see from the photos). Although he is joined in the trio by Nikolai Eilertsen (The National Bank, Lester) on bass and Torstein Lofthus (Shining) on drums, they merely provide the framework for him to indulge in his penchant for thick, fuzzed-up Rhodes and electronic fusion. On opening track “I Cover The Mountain Top” the rhythm section got into a righteous funk groove, while “Habanera Rocket” actually saw them sailing off from Norway to be anchored deep in krautrock space by a repetitive bass riff. Rather than the electric Miles sound I’d been expecting, this actually sounded more like early Can, “Yøø Døø Right”, perhaps. However they really ran their (dodo)voodoo down towards the end of their set, a nagging Michael Henderson style two note bass riff buried deep within a swirl of organ drone tracing its lineage to Jack Johnson era Miles. This minimalist funk got (metal)heads nodding throughout the venue, the huge, affectionate response seeming to genuinely surprise and touch Storløkken. Now, Ståle, about that Supersilent date…


There can’t be many countries around the world this where an unashamedly prog-metal band could have a number one album this year, but Norway is certainly one of them. Prog-metal, perhaps unsurprisingly, isn’t exactly my kopp te, and while Motorpsycho’s Heavy Metal Fruit (see, totally unashamed: it even has a song called “X3 – Knuckleheads In Space”) didn’t do much to change that, the band are a not entirely unenjoyable proposition live. Having been around in various forms since the 1980s, they are a pretty well drilled unit by now, and cut easily from Sabbath riffs to sections of complicated prog time signatures to lengthy intra-song sections of textural guitar noise. They’ve got chops. I’ve heard rumours that they may be working on something more experimental and improvised for their next release: I’m not sure how some of the hardcore fans here tonight would feel about that but I, possibly for the first time, find myself suddenly rather interested in the prospect of a forthcoming Motorpsycho album.