by Tiana Feng
Release Date: February 5th, 2013
Label: Hidden Pony Records
It’s been 3 years since Rishi Dhir released Polaris long-listed The Seven Seas. Within it, he integrated Indian influences with middle-eastern vocal techniques, tabla and dilruba. In his sophomore release, and the band’s self-titled release, the line-up has changed but Dhir still maintains the stuck-in 80’s brand of hindi-pop rock.
The album begins on an almost completely Western note. There’s no sitar and seems, or it seems to be hidden in the reverb of “Setting Sun” and the psychedelic rock stylings of “Heavy Moon”. A closer listen reveals some Indian modes within the wavy psychedelia, the bit of repeated tension that our Western years find not so familiar.
Dhir doesn’t get to the obviously ethnic parts until track 5 with “A Silent Moment” where a bowed instrument called the Dilruba introduces and sets the underlying theme. Here even the bass moves along in a Hindi-manner and the mid-song Hindi chants echo these bass parts. The track also includes some tabla drumming (which can take a life-time to master). The sitar is also the star in “Sally Go Round the Sun”, a fully instrumental song.
When he’s not shouting in Hindi, there’s a Beatle-esque quality to Dhir’s voice most apparent in the surf-rocky “Looking Thru Baby Blue.”
“The Sea of Your Mind” is an eight and a half minute spiritual journey and what sounds like dialog between the vocal and guitar parts. It is then joined by the sitar in a sort of sonic splendour.
The album ends with “The Sacred Sound” with violin and shoegaze vocals. The violin modulates in such a Western way that it’s like we’ve been transported to another album entirely.
With tunes like “Love the Sinner, Hate The Sin”, Elephant Stone at first listen sounds like straightforward indie-rock. However, Dhir takes the unfamiliar and hides it in the familiar.
You can stream the entire album over at Exclaim!