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Elkhorn has long traversed the valleys between fried cosmic psychedelia and American Primitive, particularly the latter style’s reverence to a wide range of folk and blues idioms. While previous Elkhorn albums have confidently reconciled these influences, splitting the difference between Popol Vuh’s devotional drift and the outer reaches of deep-cut classic rock while constantly keeping one foot in the river of the Ever-Weird America, On The Whole Universe In All Directions (recorded in the band’s home studio just as the world was emerging from the pandemic shut-down) distills the Elkhorn sound into something as revelatory as it is unexpected. Each of the four extended pieces on On The Whole Universe In All Directions (the title is derived from the work of 13th century Japanese Soto Zen poet Dōgen) are named for a point on the compass, a subtle but appropriate nod to the notion of ground coverage. The dialogue between Drew Gardner’s cascading cave-echo vibraphone and pulsing drums and Jesse Sheppard’s intricate spiderwebs of 12-string guitar creates a dynamic force that is more than the sum of its parts. The near-monastic confidence required to forsake easy psychedelic signifiers for something more capacious and minimalist is a testament to both Elkhorn’s imagination and the group’s refreshing instinct to declutter. The resulting music evokes Bobby Hutcherson and Jack DeJohnette covering Led Zeppelin III, or perhaps Robbie Basho’s “Cathedral Et Fleur De Lis” if it had been recorded for ECM. -James Toth  

Music 
Drew Gardner | vibraphone, drums 
Jesse Sheppard | 12-string guitar 

Technical 
Drew Gardner | recording and mix 
Andrew Weathers | mastering 

Visuals 
Yosuh Jones | art 
Alex Dorfman | design and layout 

Words 
James Toth | liner notes

Released April 7, 2023 

Brilliant new instrumental fork-bending from the always amazing Elkhorn, presented here in a quartet setting I had not heard before. The basic band remains Drew Gardner on electric guitar and Jesse Sheppard on acoustic, but as often seems to happen with these guys, there are a couple more faces in the studio. This time it's two drummers. One is Ian McColm, a Virginia tub monster who has played in many excellent situations, including a 2012 Feeding Tube duo cassette with Daniel Bachman. The other drummer is DC-based Nate Scheible who does his own records and has also worked with everyone from Mark McGuire to Matt Wascovich. The wide foundational base these two provide allows Drew and Jesse to climb higher than they have ever dared before.

 

By shifting the basic conceptual thrust closer to rock-qua-rock, this formation is capable of psyching-out with pure guitar force. The Ouroboran elements of open-form improvisation-based music really gel when the snakes are encouraged to eat their own tails. The drumming adds shimmer to the acoustic passages, and power distensions to the electric ones. Holding the strings accountable to forces of rhythm forces both the note and chord lines to twist in ways they otherwise mightn't. It's like the percussion challenges the guitars to not get too comfortable with a groove. Be prepared, fellas. Anything could happen.

 

That said, Distances is a beautiful-sounding record. The core of Elkhorn has always known how to get to a real special musical spot, where acid flash meets acoustic burn. I'm  just saying, the drums take this sound even deeper. You will get a lot of spins out of this one. Or I'll eat my hat. - Byron Coley

Recorded at Uniform Recording - August 3 & 4, 2019 
Electric Guitar - Drew Gardner 
Acoustic Guitar - Jesse Sheppard 
Drums - Ian McColm & Nate Scheible 
Art & Design - Jake Blanchard 
Recording & Mix - Jeff Zeigler 
Mastering - Caleb Mulkerin 
Feeding Tube - Byron Coley & Ted Lee 

 

Released September 18, 2022

Recorded live on October 3, 2020 in Chadds Ford, PA and livestreamed on Rhizome DC  

Recorded, Mixed and Mastered by Drew Gardner 

Drew Gardner - 6 String Guitar 
Jesse Sheppard - 12 String Guitar 
Turner Williams in Marseille, France via WhatsApp - Shahi Baaja

Released November 5, 2021 

WH050 Limited to 200 copies on black tapes

Elkhorn is Drew Gardner & Jesse Sheppard 

featuring collaborations with 
Mike Gangloff 
Nate Scheible
Harmonica Dan & Ken Brenninger 
Jordan Perry
Eight Point Star

Cover Photo by Dan Perez 
Layout & Design by T. Warren Parker 

Special thanks to 
James Adams, Jon Camp, Matt Cohen, Jamie Cooke, Peter Dering, Caleb Flood, Cara Gangloff, Charlie Hearon, Isak Howell, Rick McBride, Andy McLeod, Max Milgram, Matt Peyton, Davis Salisbury, Chris Tart, Tim Thornton and everyone who came out to see these shows.

Released March 5, 2021 

Centripetal Force (North America), in conjunction with Cardinal Fuzz (UK/Europe), is excited to announce the upcoming release of Elkhorn’s The Acoustic Storm Sessions, the sister album to the much-lauded The Storm Sessions released earlier this year on Beyond Beyond Is Beyond. The album is being presented in a 500 copy vinyl pressing and will be made available for preorder on September 14th. 

Elkhorn is known for their unique blend of psych/folk guitar music, with Jesse Sheppard on fingerstyle twelve-string acoustic and Drew Gardner on six-string electric. The Acoustic Storm Sessions, recorded the evening before The Storm Sessions, also features Turner Williams (Ramble Tamble, Guardian Alien) on guitar and marks the first time Elkhorn has created an entirely acoustic album. 

The Acoustic Storm Sessions is comprised of two side-long tracks drawing on the trio’s intimate knowledge of each others’ playing as they immerse themselves in the spirit of improvisation and allow it to guide the music’s course. As a result, there are raga-like qualities to these pieces, a revolving array of melodies, rhythmic flourishes and subtle embellishments that not only entrance the performers but the listener as well. There is no doubt that the group’s meditative intensity on The Acoustic Storm Sessions is at an...  more

Released October 2, 2020

The Storm Sessions is the latest glowing proof that Elkhorn are one of the most durable and adventurous platforms of the new guitar age. Snowed in with their friend Turner Williams (Ramble Tamble, Guardian Alien) on the night of an emotionally important gig, the duo-plus-one turned it into a cathartic blizzard-bound collaboration and rumination -- and a new step for Elkhorn. 

A powerful turn outside the duo’s comfort zone, The Storm Sessions consists of two side-long improvisations by guitarists Jesse Sheppard (12-string acoustic) and Drew Gardner (6-string electric) along with Turner’s rare and lovely vibrations (electric bouzouki on one side, shahi baaja on the flip). No strangers to improvisation or collaboration, The Storm Sessions is their most spontaneous studio work yet, and perhaps their most beautifully flowing. 

Formed by old friends Jesse Sheppard and Drew Gardner in 2013 and naming themselves “Elkhorn” the following year, it’s the pair’s telepathic bond that has made them so much more than two dudes with guitars. With Sheppard’s rigorous 12-string acting like a meditative rhythm section for Gardner’s textured flights, the duo’s third voice emerges into a space that often borders on soulful cosmic jazz. 

Committed collaborators and community organizers in their vibrational corner of the world, both members of the band are deep students of the music. In 2018, Sheppard organized The 1000 Incarnations of the Rose, an already historic three-day festival in Takoma Park, Maryland--John Fahey’s hometown--that showcased generations of wide-eared guitarists. Ambassadors to an often-hidden creative lineage as well as an often-hidden network of modern players, Elkhorn have hewn to the most sage advice Timothy Leary ever proclaimed: Find the others. 

Mark Fosson (who played the 1000 Incarnations of the Rose) was one such Other, forming a cross-generational bond with Sheppard. Scheduled to play a New York show with Elkhorn in late 2018, the 68-year-old Fosson fell ill and passed away. A rescheduled performance featuring Williams (another Other) turned into the extended session in Gardner’s home studio in Harlem. 

The Storm Sessions is filled with flickering textures that might create warmth on a cold day, or a bubble of human atmosphere inside a dreary dystopian vacuum, no matter the weather outside. Their sixth full-length in five years, Elkhorn are both well into their journey and have only just begun.

Released February 7, 2020 

Two mind-bending slabs of acoustic and electric guitars, wandering into corners of acid-logic only accessible to bravest explorers. Elkhorn is a duo — Jesse Sheppard and Drew Gardner — from NYC. Their earlier records (Elkhorn on Beyond Is Beyond, The Black River on Debacle) would have blown us away, even if we didn’t know Jesse from his work as a film-maker (he directed the Glenn Jones/Jack Rose doc, The Things That We Used to Do) and organizer (he put together the 1,000 Incarnations of the Rose festival). Elkhorn’s music, which we had suspected might be in a fairly traditional American Primitive vein, was anything but. And these two LPs (released individually, but recorded more or less simultaneously) explore a whole warren of new style caverns.

Sun Cycle was recorded at Jason Meagher’s Black Dirt Studio and is closer to their pure duo sound (although guitarist Willie Lane and percussionist Ryan Jewell are along for the ride). There are elements of the American Primitive thread present, but these touch mostly on the outer reaches of the form, like Gene Estibou & Jean-Claude Pickens’ Intensifications, or the crazy distentions of MV and PG Six. Layers of pluck and soar and light percussion mix at the upper edge of the cosmic barrier, and Sun Cycle is, to our ears, Elkhorn’s most adventurous and fully realized album yet. 

On Elk Jam, Willie Lane and Ryan Jewell function more as members of a psychedelic folk-rock quartet, and the troupe takes things even deeper in a Bay Area-styled trip zone. Recalling the classic ruminations of Mountain Bus, the full four man Elkhorn is exactly what the doctor prescribed for a generation of sack-butts who imagine John Mayer’s pudgy phallus-riffs have shit to do with transcendental psych exploration. Elkhorn are the true sonic dealio.

Instrumental music doesn’t get much better than this. As Capt. Beefheart once said, “If you got ears/You gotta listen!” We couldn’t agree more. - Byron Coley, 2019 

Jesse Sheppard - 12-string acoustic guitar 
Drew Gardner - electric guitar 
Willie Lane - electric guitar 
Ryan Jewel - drums, tabla 

Recorded at Black Dirt Studios on February 3rd, 2018 

Jason Meagher - recording and mix 
Carl Saff - mastering 
Turner Williams - cover art 
D. Norsen - design 

Released April 12, 2019 

Elkhorn_ElkJam_FTR425CDLR_edited.jpg

This album contains live versions of the tune Lionfish performed over the course of 2018. Take a deep dive into space as the song evolves over time and heavy guests collaborate...

Never Get 2 Be Cool - New Haven, CT - 07.28.18 - with Turner Williams on shahi baaja 

Jerry's On Front - Philadelphia, PA - 07.07.18 - with Nick Millevoi on guitar

The Root Cellar - Greenfield, MA - 07.28.18 - with Willie Lane on guitar

Philadelphia Record Exchange - Philadelphia, PA - 04.28.18 - with Matt Valentine on guitar and Pat Gubler on keys 

RhizomeDC - Takoma Park, MD - 06.09.18 - with Ian McColm and Nate Scheible on drums 

Low - Charlottesville, VA - 10.26.18 - with Davis Salisbury on guitar 


Electric Guitar - Drew Gardner 
Acoustic Guitar - Jesse Sheppard

Released November 18, 2018

 

"In the fall of 2017, Drew Gardner, the electric guitarist in the guitar duo Elkhorn, had a life-changing, mystical experience eighty feet underwater while scuba diving in Belize. Exploring the lush barrier reef fifty miles off the coast, he saw a particularly intriguing lionfish, and, mesmerized by its great beauty, reached out his hand to this wondrous animal. 

Lionfish are gorgeously proportioned, elaborately decorated beasts, plumed in the manner of Quetzalcoatl with eighteen hypodermic spines, each holding a payload of powerful neurotoxic venom. Making contact at the exact point where man and God fail to touch in Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam", the lionfish injected Gardner in the tip of his right index finger. At that moment, Gardner says, “the spirit of all creation was delivered instantly to the core of my heart.” 

Gardner brought back samples of the venom and shared it with the other half of Elkhorn, the twelve-string acoustic guitar-fingerpicking Jesse Sheppard. Raised by a father with a storied career as an expert psycho-pharmacologist, Sheppard had inherited extensive expertise on the preparation and testing of psychoactive drugs. He quickly refined the venom into a powdered form just as potent as the original.

As a band, Elkhorn spent several weeks experimenting with different dosages of the drug, using it to fuel long electric/acoustic guitar improvisations exploring the fabric of the universe from within the intertwining spaces of mind and sound. As they experimented, it soon became clear that Gardner’s right index finger would continue to bear a scar from his encounter with the lionfish, to which he credits a permanent improvement in his guitar tone. 

At 11:09PM on the evening of December 2nd, 2017, a day now known as “Lionfish Day,” Gardner and Sheppard each snorted two enormous lines of lionfish powder from the surface of a mirror adorned with the silkscreened image of Bill Kreutzmann’s face. They then proceeded to capture the recording you have in your hands at the band’s Sharktooth studio in New York City. 

Each of these two extended improvisations, “Lion” and “Fish,” were timed to correspond with the peak effect of the lionfish venom as it opened and focused their minds, connecting them with the ambiguous beauty, danger and mystery of nature."  


acoustic: jesse sheppard 
electric: drew gardner 

recorded 12.2.17 
sharktooth studio, nyc 

elklag music (ascap) 

artwork: max clotfelter 
thanks: adam svenson 

released June 6, 2018 

vinyl reissue June 6, 2022

a0809154958_16.jpg

Elkhorn are longtime friends Jesse Shepard (12 string acoustic guitar) and Drew Gardner (electric guitar). Fresh off their debut tape on Beyond Beyond is Beyond, this incredible duo fuses a rich vein of American primitive with psych, jazz, and improv. The result is a nearly perfect album that wildly bounds through the American story of guitar in the 20th century. It is a high wire act of the highest order. Album will come on heavyweight vinyl in a beautiful sleeve designed by Mikey Rioux with spot UV gloss embellishment.


Elkhorn is 
Jesse Shepard - Acoustic Guitar 
Drew Gardner - Electric Guitar 

Recorded at Black Dirt Studios by Jason Meagher 
Mastered at Klem Sound by Patrick Klem 
Artwork and Design by Mikey Rioux 
Elklag Music (ASCAP)

Released April 28, 2017 

Reissue on Red Vinyl 2021

Elkhorn is a folk/psych-rock guitar duo featuring Jesse Sheppard on twelve-string acoustic and Drew Gardner on electric. This music interweaves the extended folk tradition with psychedelic improvisation. 

Elkhorn’s sound is rooted in the earthy, traditional fingerpicking of Sheppard with Gardner’s restrained, passionate cascades of improvised melodic phrases flowing through. They move freely between several different traditions; from American Primitive to Psychedelic Rock, from Hindustani to Mauritanian, from Krautrock to Jazz; pulling from players as diverse as Robbie Basho, Sonny Sharrock, Ben Chasny, and David Gilmour. Elkhorn combines the past and future in a rich multilayered music that shifts fluidly from pre-rock to post-rock, from the 1860s to the 1960s and beyond. 

Gardner and Sheppard grew up together in the deep woods and rotting industrial husks of central New Jersey and are long time musical collaborators. Their duo concept has come together over the last few years of intense woodshedding. As a Philadelphia-based filmmaker Sheppard has worked with artists such as Glenn Jones, Daniel Bachman, and Nathan Bowles. His performance documentary featuring Jack Rose, The Things That We Used To Do, came out on Strange Attractors Audio House in 2010. Gardner is a multi-instrumentalist who has led bands featuring avant-garde musicians such as John Tchicai and Sabir Mateen, and often conducts experimental collaborations on the fringes of the New York improv music scene.  

Released August 19, 2016

Vinyl Reissue on Debacle Records 2018

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