After a bizarre, but entertaining remix album released in early 2015, Elephant Stone return with perhaps one of their most innovative albums yet. Lead by Rishi Dhir (Vocals/Bass/Sitar), Ship of Fools revolves around a core theme of exploration; touching on our limited knowledge of space, our universe and ourselves. Through experienced songwriting and vast experimentation of sound, Elephant Stone have managed to compile an eleven track album following their journey into the mysterious unknown of discovering their sound and selves.
One might call it another attempt at capturing the evolutionary noise of the future with Dhir’s strange compilation of eerie sitar solos, mixed with a broad collection of NASA voice recordings taken from the research centre itself, however there’s a lot more to the album beneath the surface of strange sounds and voices.
While their modern rock roots still linger in tracks such as ‘Cast The First Stone’, the band’s innovation is something that should not be overlooked. To set themselves this challenge in the first place is a gateway to development and Elephant Stone have certainly stepped up to the task. Ship of Fools may not be the next musical revolution, but it’s an undeniable stepping stone in the right direction and has given the band a mode to showcase their growth and maturity as artists over the past few years in this truly unique release. Musically, Ship of Fools stands as one of Elephant Stone’s more outgoing releases as it veers further away from their previously acclaimed sound that featured in their self-titled LP in 2013. A risky move? It’s debatable. There’s a lot to be said for a snappy change of style.
The long, thrilling riffs towards the end of ‘Manipulator’ are a force not to be reckoned with, a statement a the beginning of the album on the very first track that showcases who Elephant Stone are and what they’re offering. As the album carries on, the new sound slowly seeps its way into the rest of the tracks, mixing in with sounds of old and new in a mash-up of experimental-pop and new age rock. The band slowly ease you into the album, allowing time to adjust and analyse. The pattern continues, slowly swallowing up the familiar for fresh until the final 5:40 conclusion that is ‘Au Gallis’. It ends with a bang, reaching new heights of creativity in its rapid finish with the Elephant Stone equivalent of a crashing, conclusive cymbal; eerie, isolated piano chords slowly leading into an encore of screeching machinery against a processed sitar, all combining for an impactful ending.
Much like their adventurous musical discovery, Elephant Stone have taken to more mature themes in their songwriting also. Tracks like ‘Andromeda’, explores topics of oblivion and insignificance, self-doubt and our personal wondering. Often the album ventures into a darker tone, intertwining tracks such as ‘The Devil’s Shelter’ and ‘Run, Sister, Run’ between the chirpier, more chart-friendly listens. While this technique dilutes the album’s intensity as a whole, it also provides a subtle contrast that enhances the record both lyrically and structurally.
Ship of Fools is a rush of emotion and experimentation with the potential to be harnessed into something phenomenal that may lead the upcoming revolution in modern pop. It is an album founded upon risk and creativity, making it by far one of the more fascinating albums of 2016 in terms of innovation. Elephant Stone have tried and succeeded in bringing science-fiction to life through non-orchestral soundtrack as they blend factual recordings with infectious 80’s melodies and a sitar.
Ship of Fools is out now on digital platforms and will be released physically in the UK on November 25th via Burger Records.