Elkhorn The Acoustic Storm Sessions is a beautiful instrumental acoustic guitar album with inspired improvised compositions in the American Primitive Folk Style that combines drone, folk, raga and eastern scales with mystical intentions. Elkhorn is known for combining folk and psychedelic electric guitar however, The Acoustic Storm Sessions is their first release with three acoustic guitarists. Featuring the core duo of Jesse Sheppard on twelve-string acoustic, Drew Gardner on six string acoustic and special guest Turner Williams. It’s deliciously soothing on the ears with lush organic tones for deep listening. The guitarists enter into a flow state with telepathic communication for a seamless kaleidoscope of sound that draws the listener into a meditative state of transcendence. Each track flows into each other and the album sounds like one long composition.
Elkhorn The Acoustic Storm Sessions is out on Centripetal Force Records (North America) and Cardinal Fuzz (UK, Europe) on October 2nd 2020 in limited edition vinyl and digital downloads.
The creative process of writing and recording The Acoustic Storm Sessions is fascinating. The recording took place in Gardener’s home studio when a freak snow storm forced the cancellation of the highly anticipated performance in Brooklyn. In these circumstances they recorded new compositions spontaneously. The three musicians were snowed-in, trapped inside for the night with impassable road conditions and no public transit. The long impromptu recording session struck at the right moment and was highly inspired in the midst of walls of white snow piling up outside their windows. They had planned to debut new improvisations at the ill-fated performance and had committed to additional rehearsals to prepare. The recording required a dramatic adjustment in mindset, forcing the band to look inward and adapt to the unexpected forces of nature. They decided to focus on themes of self-healing, meditation and deep listening which resonate in each shining note.
Elkhorn is a duo from New York with Jesse Sheppard on twelve-string acoustic and Drew Gardner on electric guitar with effects. Gardener lived in San Francisco where he became involved in free jazz as a guitarist and drummer before moving to New York and Sheppard is from Philadelphia, he is highly inspired by Philly guitar legend Jake Rose. The Acoustic Storm Sessions sees both members on acoustic guitars and it features guest appearances from Turner Williams of Ramble Tamble and Guardian Alien. The unique circumstances of the recording makes this album stand out in their catalogue as the most colorful, loose and free sonic meditation to date.
The style of acoustic guitar displayed on the album is a variation of the American Primitive Folk Style also known as American Primitivism. This style is fingerpicked acoustic guitar with drone, eastern modalities, neoclassical and improvisational compositions. The musical history of American Primitivism developed in the 1960s and 1970s with guitar heroes like Robbie Basho, John Fahey, and Scott Walker. Robbie Basho used a 12 string guitar and was the pinnacle of this style with a neoclassical approach that freely integrated raga and eastern musical scales. Basho’s goal was to elevate the style to the same level of acceptance as classical guitar and developed long and incredibly complex compositions. Elkhorn has clear resonance with Basho’s magnificent early album Seal Of The Blue Lotus. Elkhorn adds to this tradition with looser playing, stronger drone and fully improvisational execution. They stand in good company with other contemporaries like Ben Chasney (Six Organs of Admittance) Glen Jones, Alexander Turnquist, Jack Rose and many more.
Elkhorn’s The Acoustic Storm Sessions is the first time they have embraced the all acoustic set-up and they do so brilliantly. Their previous albums have been traditional folk, psychedelic fuzz guitar and post-rock inspirations layered over the fingerpicked acoustic guitar. In 2016 they released the debut self-titled album and have consistently released at least one album each year since. In 2019 they transitioned to a new writing process and scheduled extended single day recording sessions with loosely written improvised and fully spontaneous songwriting. The 2019 albums Sun Cycle and Elk Jam were born of a single day in the studio with two guest musicians joining the band, Willie Lane on guitar and percussionist Ryan Jewell; The Acoustic Storm Sessions is the follow-up to those albums using similar approach to album creation.
Elkhorn’s The Acoustic Storm Sessions is wonderful for people who like acoustic guitars and are not too fixated on compositional perfection. The improvised performances led to small hiccups in playing, a little background noise and compositions which slowly develop and gain momentum. The album plays like one long song and they achieved great results and created music which is free, meditative, healing and transcendent.