September 15, 2004

Elephonic Rhapsodies: Thai Elephant Orchestra

The world’s only non-human improv ensemble is back... After a three year wait, the highly-talented ensemble of elephant musician/composers from the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre in Northern Thailand have finally released their second album, Elephonic Rhapsodies. (For more background on them, see this earlier posting.) And its turned out to be both a better and worse album than its predecessor.

On the downside, it opens with one of the most patronising and cringe-worthy intro tracks imaginable; with the project directors, who refer to themselves as “your Uncle Dave and Uncle Richard”, presenting the elephants in a manner obviously designed for a kiddie audience. After that, they do allow one memorable track of languid glissando improvisation from the orchestra’s star xylophone player, Phong. From there on in, its all composed-by-humans pieces, which the elephants perform with and without humans. The results are truly beautiful and, as "Uncle Dave and Uncle Richard" assure us, quite enjoyable for the elephants as well.

Here are two tracks from the album, Phong’s Solo and Little Elephant Saddle. (NB: the trumpeting in the latter track was apparently a spontaneous response to hearing a violin for the first time.) The album itself can be purchased from Mulatta Records.

Posted by Warren at September 15, 2004 12:38 AM | Animals