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(49:11, Great Winds Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Shower 3:46 2. Rupert’s Roof 2:32 3. Shift 3:35 4. Eccentricity 4:57 5. Wintersleep 4:10 6. Small Wings 3:39 7. Nun Is Now 3:39 8. Force 3:30 9. Carabas 3:36 10. Lucky 3:17 11. Nightwalk Nine 3:46 LINEUP: Jeroen Elfferich – drums Rik Fennis – guitars Bert Mullen – bass
Prolusion. Hailing from the Netherlands, ELFFERICH FOUR is a guitar trio presenting “Eccentricity”, which according to them is their fourth album. I’d like to name the titles of their previous releases, but none are mentioned in the press kit or on the band’s website either (if only due to its unavailability).
Analysis. With two attentive listens to this recording behind me, I feel it’s beyond my powers to omit what and whom Elfferith Four cite as their inspirations, namely Balkan and Turkish folk music, progressive, jazz and rock of the ‘70s, classical music, King Crimson, ELP and Bartok. All this sounds excessively promising, since the only guitar trio ever honored by being compared with ELP is Germany’s Mekong Delta, which in turn is certainly due to their success in performing classical music, meaning their own rendering of Modest Mussorgsky’s piano cycle “Pictures at an Exhibition”. In fact however, besides “rock music of the ‘70s”, there is nothing of that kind on Elfferith Four’s “Eccentricity”, eccentricity itself included. The eleven instrumental tracks here range from two-and-a-half to five minutes in length, eight of them finding this threesome playing fairly standard Blues Rock dominated by guitarist Rik Fennis’s parts, which are either corresponding (i.e. blues and rock, but not jazz) improvisations or conventional solos and (rarely) riffs. As regards the group’s chosen style, it would be safe to mention that Rik is ably supported by both his fellows, bassist Bert Mullen and drummer Jeroen Elfferich – no accident that his last name serves as a base for the band's, since he's the founder of the outfit. Since I was never much into this kind of music, it’s not too easy for me to find reference points, though the pieces that best of all reflect the disc’s primary style, Rupert’s Roof, Shift and the title track (following each other right after the opener Shower), remind me to a certain degree of somewhat emasculated versions of Cream, the first two featuring quite a few unison guitar and bass leads-based moves, not too impressively, despite the fact that the drummer plays some fascinating odd beats meanwhile. Mr. Elfferich generally appears to be the most diverse player in the band, but to no avail, and after all he's the one who composed all the pieces on the disc. By about halfway through the recording I began to lose interest, since each of the following primary-style pieces, Wintersleep, Force, Carabas, Lucky and Nightwalk Nine, turns out to be simpler than its predecessor, the band’s lack of inspiration (and I doubt that it’s linked in any way with the limitations of the style) becoming more and more obvious. While being tri-thematic as well as fairly repetitive, the pieces tend to gradually lose their improvisational component, the last three tracks taking the form of quite ordinary balladic guitar Rock with just a hint of Blues. There are some variations along the way, but the basic approach remains essentially the same throughout each of the five. I usually welcome efforts that are recorded live in the studio, but not in this particular case. The sound lacks sonic saturation almost everywhere on the disc, and by the way all this could’ve been easily done at one sitting, without any compositionally-arranged preparations. That being said, the disc’s centerpiece, Small Wings, is generally a makeweight, compiled of two different sketches, with the first half representing a set of guitar effects, and the second one a solo on congas. Only Shower and Nun Is Now are more or less to my liking, as both at least reveal energy in places, alternating hard rock moves with those described already more than once.
Conclusion. When looking over some other progrock online resources I was surprised to learn that this CD, as well as many other simplistic recordings, got a high rating – in contrast with those featuring complex and inventive music, such as Soma Planet’s “Bholenath” for instance. Elfferich Four are no amateurs within their chosen field, but they have nothing to offer progressive listeners.
VM: June 11, 2008
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