Review: Elkhorn ‘Acoustic Storm’

This is a record with a story. Once there was a storm…  Come in by the fire and watch the flames – a steady grounded burning, flickers of themes and the mind finding patterns. Acoustic Storm is released nearly a year after Elkhorn’s The Storm Sessions, essentially two improvised pieces recorded after being snowed-in by a massive storm. 

Elkhorn ‘Acoustic Storm’

These acoustic tracks were recorded the night before The Storm Sessions, the night that the three musicians retreated from the streets of New York, abandoning a gig that was sabotaged by the elements.

While the record they released from the next day’s playing features various electric sounds, all we hear on Acoustic Storm is two acoustic six-strings and one twelve-string. Those three voices speak at once, in turns, stepping forward and stepping back in an extremely attuned flow. It’s not clean and pristine, there are mis-steps, mistunings, lines that don’t lead anywhere and fall away, but the sound is clear and intimate.

In the honesty and simplicity of approach, Acoustic Storm seems to point back at ancient music, but the two pieces are not confined to one tradition. There are elements that are plainly in the US folk style, and that is a large part of where these players are coming from, but we also hear phrases that seem to come from elsewhere, or that wouldn’t sound out of place as part of a psych or krautrock exploration.

Modes shift around a held resolution, and the intertwining guitars push on and pull back at rhythm and melody…

Modes shift around a held resolution, and the intertwining guitars push on and pull back at rhythm and melody, introduce ideas to build momentum and resonance, or settle back through dry and brittle picking. There are the seeds of a dozen songs here, but it’s enough to sit with the sound and share the ‘mood of expansive calmness’ that Jesse Sheppard (twelve-string) says they felt during this session. That calmness is much more evident than on The Storm Sessions, nothing needs to be pushed to the fore, distorted or amplified because the tools work as they are.

Elkhorn say that with this recording they hope to ‘help transcend the noise and tumult of everyday life and make the necessary reach inward that much easier.’ It works for me, this is music as process, a function for both players and listener, a bridge between inward-looking and communication.

Label: Cardinal Fuzz Records | Centripetal Force Records
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Scribed by: Harry Holmes