Elephant Stone Go Deep on 'Back into the Dream'

BY Stephan BoissonneaultPublished Feb 23, 2024


Led by multi-instrumentalist Rishi Dhir’s swirling visions, Elephant Stone have always had a dream-like quality in their songwriting. Back into the Dream, the band’s latest, finds the four-piece diving head first into the nighttime hallucinations we all experience.

Like you’re just waking from a dream or in a deep sleep, flying through a self-made landscape that you’ll only half-remember, Back into the Dream builds on Elephant Stone’s shimmering psychedelic repertoire, adding a few curve balls in the form of new age free jazz or darkened shoegaze.

If there’s one thing Elephant Stone have become adept at, it’s building a song. A delayed ebb and flow drifts in the haze of a song like “History Repeating” before exploding like a budding sonic flower. The band never overstay their welcome, with no laborious guitar or synth solos, even on the sitar and tabla-led instrumental “Godstar.” Each in-studio decision was made only in service to the song, no egos clouding the arrangements.

Dhir’s voice acts like a transcendental guide throughout the whole album, using echoey repetition to give each song a light droney feel in conversation with the Beatles’ Revolver. Indeed, “Another Year Gone,” feels like it would fit in the Beatles catalogue quite nicely without sounding like cheap imitation. When Elephant Stone go for classic ‘60s acid rock, it feels like a reinvigorated take on well-worn territory.  

That said, during the title track’s first few minutes, Elephant Stone perhaps subconsciously pull a bit too much from a more modern shade of psychedelia — the unmistakable texture and timbre of early Tame Impala. It’s a difficult comparison to get away from when you start a song with an underwater delayed phase guitar figure, a sound popularized by Kevin Parker’s scuzzier prior work.

There are also some gorgeous vocal harmonies on Back into the Dream, reminiscent at times of of Crosby, Stills, & Nash, especially on the mighty seven-minute “The Imajinary, Nameless Everybody in the World.” It’s almost three songs in one, ending with a heavy rifftastic psych rock jam that morphs into a fantastic jazzy saxophone interlude. The shapeshifting vibe continues during the outro of “Pilgrimage,” and it’s these connective tissues between songs that make Back into the Dream such a disorienting listen — you won’t want to wake up.

(Elephants On Parade)

Latest Coverage