Elephant Stone is a project helmed by a series of musicians loosely orbiting Montreal.
The Canadian city is a suitable axis for their psychedelic creativity, a blast of sitar-enhanced lysergic voyaging.
Led by the redoubtable figure of Rishi Dhir, the band's new album 'Hollow' could well be their most complex, nuanced, and ambitious project yet.
Out on February 14th, the record is a dense complex affair, pitting their refreshing psychedelia against stirring, potent themes.
Here's the skinny...
The soul of mankind is dying. We have lost connection with each other and follow the false ego. It is a truly hollow existence. We fill this emptiness with more emptiness that the powers that be feed us. We are destroying the planet without thought of how the next generation will have to pay for our crimes…
Then... it all ends. A catastrophic event/moment decimates the earth. We go into panic mode.... Goodbye sunshine, hello dark skies, so long clean air, do you care?
With 'Hollow' set to be released this week, Rishi Dhir spoke to Clash about his conceptual inspirations...
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The Who - 'Tommy'
For concept albums, this is where it all began for me… nine years old and hearing 'Amazing Journey'/'Sparks' for the first time... And then watching the Tommy movie! Wow. Tina Turner as the Acid Queen haunted my dreams.
Musically, I love the recurring themes and the sparse instrumentation. It lacks the power of 'Live At Leeds', but it has this warmth to it. Brilliant album that I never tire of.
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The Kinks - 'Arthur (Or The Decline And Fall Of The British Empire)'
I initially wanted to put 'Village Green...' on the list, but feel that this album has a more consistent theme/story and was a big reference point for the writing/arranging of ‘Hollow’.
I love all the unexpected music turns throughout the album (the oompa oompa part of 'Yes Sir, No Sir!'). Ray Davies is a genius and you really get a strong sense of character in his songs.
I can definitely here his influence on 'Keep The Light Alive'.
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The Zombies - 'Odessey & Oracle'
Sometimes a concept album is less about a storyline, and more about a mood/feeling…. The changing of seasons… nostalgia… I love this album so much.
The orchestral arrangements for 'Hollow', as with 'Odessey & Oracle', I opted to use my Mellotron rather than real strings. Brilliant songwriters and musicians and I have had the distinct honour of having shared the stage with them many times over the past 20 years.
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The Pretty Things - 'SF Sorrow'/'Parachutes'
Hearing 'SF Sorrow' for the first time was a revelation. Actually, I think it started with 'Defecting Grey' and then lead back to this album.
Apparently, it was recorded/released before 'Tommy', but never made it Stateside. This is the dark side of the concept/psych albums and has been my main reference point for all things psych.
As for 'Parachute' I only finally heard it a couple of years ago and had a big influence on the arranging of 'Hollow'.
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Rush - '2112'
My initial list ended with 'Sgt. Peppers'... But then I thought that was too easy/predictable.
I was never a huge Rush fan, but being Canadian (and a Rickenbacker-playing bassist) I had the utmost respect for what they did. In putting 'Hollow' together I decided I needed to explore the more proggy side of the concept album and spent some time with '2112'. Much like this album, I opted to make Side A the song-suite/full on concept/story and Side B songs touch upon the themes introduced in Side A.
And now with the passing of Neil Peart, I’m beginning to appreciate this band more and more… funny how you don’t know what you got till it’s gone...
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'Hollow' will be released on February 14th - catch them at London's Moth Club venue that evening.
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