Eiliff – Eiliff (1971): Fuse into a little jazz fusion

Formed in the late 60’s by Rainer Brüninghaus, Houschäng Nejadepour, Detlev Landmann, Herbert J. Kalveram and Bill Brown, EILIFF were a German instrumental band who turned fusion on its head with a pair of studio albums featuring classy Canterbury-style jamming with bass, guitar and keyboards plus some ethnic instruments thrown in (mostly the sitar). Two live albums were also released, one of which only came out 30 years later. Being somewhat out of step with the then dominant Kosmiche tradition, the band never really made a name for themselves despite displaying some phenomenal musicianship. References include SOFT MACHINE, early KING CRIMSON, COLOSSEUM, NUCLEUS, VDGG as well as Miles Davis and Frank Zappa.

Byrd-Night starts the album off in an incredibly off-hand whimsical fashion and this generally will reflect the theme throughout the album. Lovely lush soundscapes are created by various instruments and effects, however they’re build up only to be torn down again in a nearly frustrating circle that eventually hightens the enjoyment of the clean pieces. Psychedelic synth solos built on very repetitive short riffs seem to set the tune for a nice trip into the prog underworld. If you lose focus for just a few seconds you may forget that it’s actually music you’re listening to, that can be a good or a bad thing depending on how you feel about it.

Here’s a lovely little kick-ass review from the Albums of the years Music website.  Gammeloni is a lovely energetic piece that is quite reminiscent of a lot of Frank Zappa’s pre-70’s instrumental work. With a continuing shifting focus on one or two instruments with a lot of different solos the music entices you without managing to build to a true climax. This being said most passages are incredibly satisying nevertheless and I can only see them getting more enjoyable with every listen. The production on the drums is very good however I would like to hear the bass a bit clearer because there’s some lovely work there. The sax solo on Gammeloni can also draw some paralells to King Crimson’s Lizard which in mybook is certainly a huge bonus to any fusion album. Now after being teased for a good 5 minutes (10 if you count Byrd-Night) you get a proper climax as the guitar solo kicks in, it’s short but oh so sweet.

Starting with a very In The Court style riff oozing with all sorts of influences Suite is instantly satisfying, more upbeat than the rest of the album it’s attack after attack of brilliant solos and passages. Despite all these brilliant pieces, surpisingly the whole is still more than the sum of its parts and that’s another great attribute. For progheads this album will be a true gem as you can play “spot the influence” on a lot of the riffs and solos however it never ever comes across as ripping off anything. The album does sound very much like you would expect from a prog/fusion album however it’s still incredibly fresh and original for anyone who hasn’t heard it and it never comes off as stale. Having aged a lot better than a lot of the fusion work of the time will certainly count very postively towards it’s score. The epic Suite has some delightful passages leading towards the middle, with a lot of more eastern melodies becoming apparant and even moreso with the introduction of the sitar towards the middle of the song.

You can buy this very very cool album here.