RCD 2154CD RCD 2154CD

Cross-breed a crocodile and an elephant and you might end up with an ungodly hybrid: a Krokofant. Familiar to Norwegians from a popular kids' song, a real life Krokofant would be a lumbering, trumpeting beast with a fearsome array of teeth in its snapping jaws. Which pretty much sums up the music made by the Krokofant trio on their debut LP for Rune Grammofon. The young, semi-improvising power trio -- Tom Hasslan (guitars), Axel Skalstad (drums) and Jørgen Mathisen (saxophone) -- typify a new and invigorating movement currently sweeping across the Nordic region: hard boiled improvisation and strong instrumental personalities bolted onto rock beats and driving rhythms. Live, Krokofant pull no punches, sounding off like some unholy three-way marriage of early '70s jazz rock (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Terje Rypdal, Ray Russell), the sprawling progressive odysseys of King Crimson and Henry Cow, and the fierce heat of Peter Brötzmann's harsh free jazz ensembles. Originally a guitar and drums duo, Tom and Axel met at a guitar shop in Kongsberg, a town in southern Norway famous for its annual jazz festival, where they developed a strong bond playing free music together. In 2012 they hooked up with saxophonist Jørgen, who already had a reputation in musical circles after playing in groups like Shagma, The Core, and Zanussi Five. When the duo eventually decided to capture their unruly sound at the proudly analog Engfelt & Forsgren Studio in Oslo, they invited Jørgen to join them, and the group was properly born during the sessions you can now hear on Krokofant. They ally a strong discipline (check the precision riffing of the intro to "Supermann") with wide, exploratory arcs (the closing, balladic epic, "Castaway"). Tom's agile guitar and Jørgen's snaking sax are always fighting to break out, just held in check by Axel's tough, rhythmic tumble (which gets almost funky on "Bodega"). "Our mission: more prog to the people!" says Tom. "Or having a good time playing what feels right in the moment." Krokofant: once bitten, never forgotten.