Montreal psychedelic band Elephant Stone released their latest album Hollow on February 14th. I first saw them at The Lexington in, I think, 2011 and their stunning set remains etched on my memory, the powerful and hypnotic set closer Don’t You Know cementing an ongoing love for this band, and in particular, Rishi Dhir’s thrilling sitar playing.
The new album Hollow is a concept album adventure. The story goes: after man has trashed this planet, a few chosen ones head off to New Earth, a recently-discovered planet. The Harmonia is a vessel built specially to take them to their new home; but once they arrive it appears mankind has not learnt any lessons and sets about causing destruction all over again. The storyline “touches upon the plundering/poisoning of their home, the elite, demagogues, false idols, the truth as seen by children, and, ultimately, the fight for the survival of their species.”
For fans of Elephant Stone, this new album is likely to tick all the boxes as it encompasses all the elements that elevate this indie-psych outfit. And let’s hope the album is the catalyst for a whole new slew of Elephant Stone appreciators who have the pleasure of a decade or so’s worth of material to dive into.
The opener of Hollow World sets the tone for the album: a War on Drugs-style fug of rippling guitars morph into a beautiful, wistful and ecstatic track with a strong hook. The song flows flawlessly into Darker Time, Darker Space which introduces a, well, darker and more doomy element with its portentous and sonorous echoey vocals; midway the song suddenly takes a dive down deeper into a gorgeous miasma of bassy, sitary overload. The Court and Jury goes full psych with a delicious sitar riff. With opening guitar notes which stray into My Sweet Lord territory, We Cry for Harmonia offers richly overlaid rippling, sinuous guitars. And, in true concept album style, Elephant Stone get proggy – check out Land of the Dead. The 12 tracks of Hollow add up to a satisfyingly genre-rich collection of confident and memorable material and it’s their strongest album for years.
Searching for another world as we destroy this one is a theme which many artists besides Elephant Stone are unsurprisingly grappling with in these dark times. Concept album The Lasters by Fred Deakin, released in 2019, also tackles the issue of a ruined planet and the last family on Earth who need to make their escape. My review of The Lasters.
On Hollow’s release date, Elephant Stone appeared at London’s Moth Club which I missed due to train problems, not helped by the band making a 10.30pm appearance. On a positive note, Hollow World has already hit the BBC Radio 6 Music airwaves this morning so let’s hope with some good publicity, Elephant Stone can be enticed back to UK shores soon.
Check out Elephant Stone here