Ibrahim Electric

Rumours from Outer Space
ILK 230 CD

Among the deluge of Rock instrumentals such as “Telstar”, “Walk Don’t Run” and “Misirlou” that dominated the hit parade before the advent of the Beatles, one track stood out because it wasn’t by an American surf or a British beat band. It was 1961’s “Apache”, credited to "Jørgen Ingmann and His Guitar". Ingmann was a former Jazz guitarist from Copenhagen, who had played with violinist Svend Asmussen. But he parlayed the song into a long-lasting pop career.

With a set of foot-stomping instrumentals on this its eighth CD, Copenhagen-based trio Ibrahim Electric seem to be fully launched on the Ingmann path. However considering the band members – guitarist Niclas Knudsen, Hammond organist Jeppe Tuxen and drummer Stefan Pasborg – have worked up an elaborate space comic strip on the cover of this release and have posed in kitschy 1950s outfits on earlier discs, you wonder if the operation may be as sardonic as it is slick. Considering that the band has already recorded on CD with trombonist Ray Anderson, plus the fact that Pasborg, at least, has recorded a duo with pianist Carsten Dahl as well as having played with the likes of saxophonists Ellery Eskelin and Tim Berne, the ideas that the “Wipe Out” styled guitar riffs and Ventures-styled drumming may be satirical is pretty strong. Additionally, since the final tune is an under-three-minute version of “Jag Vill Leva”, a 1980s E.U.-styled hit, given a commanding beefcake rendition by baritone Nicolai Elsberg, ending in a band sing-along, the suspicion remains.

As for the other eight tracks, all but one also featuring additional percussion by Rune Olesen, there’s enough “Telstar”-like organ riffing, whammy bar guitars runs and Sandy Nelson “Teen Beat” drum smacks around that anyone could organize a 1960s-style teenage dance party. Energy is there all right, but the constant shuffle beat, “happy” organ (cf. Dave Cortez) and clanking guitar lines start to weary after a while. Most interesting are tracks like “Moondogs on the Run” and “The Afribians Are Coming”. The latter with its ascending fidgety organ glissandi and cross-switched drum beat adds a Latin flillip to Knudsen’s solid tremolo twangs. The former manages to loosen up the formula enough so the Farfisa-like organ slurs and Chuck Berry-style guitar runs play hide-and-seek with canine-like barks, woofs and growls.

With Sun Ra and Funkadelic among the many musical innovators who have subverted outer space and science fiction imagery for their own ends, Ibrahim Electric makes it own contribution here. Doubtless in person the trio must put on a great, energy-infused show. One can’t fault the members of Ibrahim Electric for what they have achieved. But to hear more sonic profundity and risks taken, searching out other CDs by the band members may likely be a better bet.

—Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. Attack from Above 2. Big Boss 3. Rumours from Outer Space 4. 5. Sneaky Galaxy Gold Diggers 6. Tales from Xhinus 7. The Afribians Are Coming 8. Space Invaders 9. Jag Vill Leva

Personnel: Niclas Knudsen (guitar); Jeppe Tuxen (Hammond B3 organ); Stefan Pasborg (drums); Rune Olesen (percussion [except 3,4,8,9] and Nicolai Elsberg (vocals)