Mon­tre­al psy­che­del­ic band Ele­phant Stone released their lat­est album Hol­low on Feb­ru­ary 14th. I first saw them at The Lex­ing­ton in 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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *