Tuesday 10 December 2013

Flying High On The Sitar With Elephant Stone

At the last edition of the Into The Great Wide Open festival an intriguing instrument is set up on the stage in the woods. On a low plateau the sitar is waiting until someone is going to play it. The man behind Canadian band Elephant Stone, Rishi Dhir, will only play it once during their successful performance at the festival. The sounds of the instrument are spreading throughout the trees and enchant its listeners. On their second album, simply titled Elephant Stone, you can hear it more often.

Elephant Stone - Elephant Stone (Ronald Says 8 out of 10)

Dhir is an established sitar player who already worked with bands like The Horrors and The Black Angels. Dhir, whose roots obviously lie in India, is mixing his background into his music in several ways. We can hear the tabla and other Hindu influences. According to Dhir he was inspired by Bollywood movies as well. Especially in 'A Silent Moment' you can here these influences including nice oriental singing.

The result is a spicy and tasteful mix that is lightly digestible. The psychedelic songs are easy on the ears and are never too heavy. The sitar is mostly used in a subtle way and only now and then acts as the main attraction, like in 'The Sea Of Your Mind'. This song really is one big jam that eventually ends in a delightful apotheosis with a repeating sitar and fireworks by the guitars. It's the highlight of the record. The sitar proves to be the ultimate psychedelic instrument. Everything is floating on the remarkable and almost spiritual sounds. No wonder George Harrison was studying the sitar later on in The Beatles era.

But the other songs are worth it as well. Because the rest of the album is full of fine songs. Sometimes they are Beatlesque tunes like 'Hold Onto Yr Soul' and 'Love The Sinner, Hate The Sin'. They are almost light easy listening pop songs. Others are explosive guitar jams, performed with a lot of heart. Rishi Dhir understands well how to attract attention by being different. His musical talents combined with his background are a smart move which results in a wonderful record.

This review has been published on ROAR E-Zine in Dutch over here.

Listen to Elephant Stone on Spotify.

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