It’s fitting Elektrapod’s debut album is a live recording. When your M.O. is 10-minute-plus songs full of improvisation, funktastic freakouts and no shortage of danceable grooves, you need the energy that’s shared between musicians and concertgoers.
That’s not to say the band shouldn’t hit the studio, but when it does, it will have its work cut out for it. “Alive in Bend” captures the local six-piece in all its sweaty, funky, hip-shaking glory on 16 tracks recorded at Bend Brewing Company’s block party in April (plus one bonus track recorded at Volcanic Theatre Pub in March).
The sound on the record, co-produced by guitarist/bandleader Gabe Johnson and Cameron Harris, is surprisingly crisp and clean. Each instrument pops with clear separation on the tracks — there’s urgency to Jarrod Donatelli’s slow-building percussion work on “Hoodoo” and a thick punch to Tyler Mason’s bass work (check out the cover of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”). Drummer Matthew Smith keeps everything moving along, even as song times stretch out (album centerpiece “Boogie Two” breaks the 12-minute mark), while keyboardist Evan Reed-Mullins creates a wall of sound with thick chord progressions. Johnson gets plenty of fiery guitar moments, peaking with a heady solo on “Swing.”
Vocalist Zoe “Ze Rox” Falkenstein is front and center on every song, and more than steps up to the plate, whether it’s a rapid-fire rap on “Cell Fish” or a full-throated roar on “Swing,” “Broker,” “Hoodoo” or, well, pick a track.
The album’s running time of more than two hours is easy to get lost in, though this would seem to be the point. Covers of Prince (“I Wanna Be Your Lover”), Parliament Funkadelic (“Mothership Connection”) and DeBarge (“You Wear it Well”) break up the original tracks and offer hints of the band’s various influences — especially its underrated rhythm and blues and soul sides.
The album is streaming and available for free download at elektrapod.com.
Elektrapod CD release show/Fourth of July celebration, with Broken Down Guitars: 6 p.m. Monday; free; Worthy Brewing, 495 NE Bellevue Drive, Bend; worthybrewing.com or 541-639-4776.
— Brian McElhiney, The Bulletin