Elephant - Little Ghost
Info: After a period of incessant live gigging (which is showing no signs of abating) and a minimum two-year process of writing his debut album, Dundalk musician Elephant (Shane Clarke) has this week shared with the world, HyperGiant. Back in February of this year the album's first single, 'Little Ghost' (above) whisked me up in the air and caught me at a moment of slight emotional vulnerability! The combination of the track, lyrics, and video giving one of those moments you look forward to experiencing when one year ends and another is about to begin, wondering about what great music is going to enter your ears over the coming 12 months.
Needless to say this led to much anticipation on my part with regard to the forthcoming album, thankfully HyperGiant matches those initial February feels as a whole. The beginning of opener '14 Crows' reminded me of a joyous Arcade Fire / Flaming Lips duet, any preconceptions that the entire album will follow in the mould of 'Little Ghost''s pensive mood blown away instantly. 'Overgrown' is the type of track that only an Irish person would immediately recognise as written by one of their fellow countrymen, their are strands ranging from old traditional Irish folk to 90's Irish rock bands such as The Frames, conjuring an image of Clarke constructing a double-helix of Irish music under lamplight.
Elephant - The Machine
'Drown My Feet' is a thing of pure beauty which for me marks Elephant as undoubtedly residing in the higher echelons of our contemporary song-writers, emotion, depth and sheer power are delivered with bittersweet ease, you're left with nothing else to do but just listen. The short but highly entertaining and perhaps unintentionally nostalgia-invoking 'Monster' found me listening to the descriptions of a child's image of the proverbial monster in the wardrobe and then thinking of how I imagined such unwelcome guests as a child, no doubt highly infused by Messrs. Dahl and Blake.
Whilst HyperGiant is invariably a contemporary album, on 'Letters' a small torch is shone back in time and points out 1960's folk, a sleepy escape with some lovely subtle harmonies. 'The Machine' (above), has a touch of the Guy Garvey's vocally before the delightful surprise of Elephant entering the peripheries of electro-land, and it works very well, something I think it would be great to see explored further on future releases. 'Boiling Water Bin' is another treat on the album that keeps giving, I'm hearing so much here, in order; Simon & Garfunkel, R.E.M., The Byrds, 'Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds', Mercury Rev, I could go on, it's a mini-opus that is unsurprisingly uplifting.
As we approach the final track, 'Coraline', it's a good time to take stock, Elephant has brought us through reflective moments filled with emotion, invited us to recall comedic childhood fears, laid our heads to rest before jerking us from our slumbers and dragging us into parallel worlds of vivid imagination and abandon. The album closes gently, and across 'Coraline''s six minutes you feel like you're finally fully absorbing HyperGiant in its entirety, courtesy of a musician who has managed to convert an obviously deep love of music into an exemplary landmark Irish recording.
HyperGiant is out now in all good record stores! Elephant also plays Upstairs in Whelans on Wexford Street on Friday, 4th of December with tickets and event info here https://www.facebook.com/events/163602013990485/
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