maandag 15 december 2014

The three poisons. Elephant Stone

This was a close call. Not another neo-psychedlic album?, I thought. Because I was working or better reading a blog post I wrote today that was just posted, I kept the album playing with half an ear paying attention. More and more I started to like what I was hearing.

Elephant Stone nearly turned me off with the very first notes of The three poisons. No, not a sitar?, but before I had time to respond this Black Rebel Motorcycle Club rhythm set in and they had my ear for the first time. An awful lot of things sounded very familiar, but also utterly pleasing. Having never heard of the band, I wondered who is Elephant Stone?

For starters this is a Canadian band, from Montreal to be more exact. A four piece Elephant Stone is, fronted by Rishi Dhir, who also plays bass and sitar. Jean-Gabriel Lambert plays guitar, Miles Dupire drums and Stephen "Le Venk" Venkatarangam farfisa and synths. All three sing backing vocals. Assistance is found in hindustani instruments and singing of which Pt. Vinay Bhide draws the most attention with her singing. The three poisons is its third album after 'The Seven Seas' (2009) and 'Elephant Stone' (2013).

Elephant Stone takes the clock back a decade or five. It's like it is 1966-1967 all over again. Wavy Gravy is coming to the rescue soon. What is positive about The three poisons is that Elephant Stone never forgets the song. Psychedelia may be all around us, dropping acid may even be mandatory when listening, but Rishi Dhir knows exactly how to craft a good melody, like most of his influences that show through. That may start with The Beatles, but everything coming after the Fab Four, like Paul Weller, The Stone Roses, Oasis and, yes, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the like have found their way into the sound of Elephant Stone.

'Motherless child (Love's not for war )' opens The three poisons in the way just described. Eastern influences and a fierce rhythm. The combination is surprising, but works. It gives the stark rhythm this extra. Psychedelic is the wrong word. This is only because of the way the 60s influenced my ears. This rhythm is totally western in which eastern sounds our interwoven. 'Knock you from yr mountain' shows this even more directly. The Stone Roses light, with Indian instruments and a mix of back ground vocals that go from Indian to 'The great gig in the sky' vocal outcries.

'All is burning' is really psychedelic in sound and execution. Traffic would not have been ashamed to put the song on the b-side of 'Paper sun'. It has the same sort of interludes twisting the song around from the original fairly simple sounding beginning. Simple but extremely pleasing four chords. "My sex is on fire" comes by in the song also. 'All is burning' admittedly goes over the edge a little at the end.

The band comes back with a fine song called 'Worlds don't begin and end with you'. Not so much a special song, but a piece of fine singing. A sound that I've heard many times before, but just fine to hear again. By that time it's quite clear that Elephant Stone is not so much looking for its own sound, but rather excels in familiar sounds. Who listens to 'Wayward son' hears a million familiar sounds going all the way back to Big Star and beyond to heavenly 60s melodies. But anyone who likes that sort of song will instantly fall for the charms of 'Wayward son'. From the fleeting backing vocal melody, the lightly sung lead vocal and the 12 string lead guitar notes. I haven't heard a song this nice since the opening song of Marjorie Fair's debut album.

The mix between 60s influences, 1990 drums and Indian instruments playing a western song continues right through The three poisons. Sometimes a little better, sometimes a little less original. Fact is that from beginning to end The three poisons is a very fine album. All eleven songs have something appealing to me. As a whole the album totally convinces.

In the end there's one name that needs mentioning, the inevitable George Harrison. Any mix of 60s rock with Indian music, his name deserves being mentioned. 'Three poisons', the title song underscores this. Not that this is a Harrison song, for that the drums are way to modern and loud, but the rest, certainly. Of course other influences are there, '2.000 light years from home', 'Here we go round the mulberry bush', it's all there, but it wouldn't have been without Harrison, is my opinion.

Yes, another psychedelic album is my conclusion. The twist Elephant Stone gives the genre is as such not original, but the way the band presents the songs make them original in the end. The three poisons is a fun album with enough interesting plots to follow and bends that give it an unsuspecting sonic view that has started to endear me fast.


You can listen to 'Three poisons' here:

You can buy the album on the band's website:

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