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Elifantree / Tölöläb — Blood Moon
(Eclipse Music 201991, 2019, CD / LP / DL)
by Jon Davis, Published 2020-04-03
It may not be considered proper to qualify an absolute — like saying “more unique” — but in reality, every album is unique, as in “not sounding identical to any other album,” regardless of how many similarities two albums might share. It is in light of this fact that I will say this album is one of the most unique you’re likely to hear. It’s a collaboration between two groups, each of which is quite interesting on its own. Elifantree is Anni Elif Egecioglu (vocals, synthesizers, banjo, percussion), Pauli Lyytinen (saxophone, EWI, live electronics, drum machine), and Olavi Louhivuori (drums, percussion); Tölöläb is Turkka Inkilä (flute, shakuhachi, electronics), Saku Mattila (oboe), Taavi Oramo (electronics), and Antti Salovaara (bassoon). Both groups use modern electronics to augment and modify sounds from jazz (Elifantree), classical (Tölöläb), and other styles (both), creating music that has really only been possible in the last few years. Their joint release begins with “Great Whales,” which starts with ambient electronics and odd noises from the woodwinds, sparsely populating a soundscape with subtle percussion. Then Egecioglu’s voice enters, blending jazz inflections with avant-garde techniques, occasionally using words, mostly not. Other tracks vary widely in sound. There are times when the woodwinds play long melodic lines, joined by a synthesizer. At other times, drums and drum machine trade erratic interjections while oboe and synths provide sparse backing. Vocals sometimes soar above stuttering rhythms. Sometimes the percussion (acoustic and electronic) goes crazy in a frenzy of spastic activity. Throughout all these divergent combinations, live processing provides interruptions, expansions, and a kind of commentary on the other parts. There are times when I’m reminded of the late Jóhann Jóhannsson’s wonderful soundtrack to the film Arrival, only with woodwinds instead of strings in the lead role, though in general I’m left at a loss for comparisons. For a taste of something that’s more unique than your run-of-the-mill unique, listening to Blood Moon is a fascinating experience.
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