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Elephants Of Scotland: Home Away From Home

Being from Scotland I can assure you that there are in fact (other than those in Edinburgh Zoo) no elephants in Scotland and judging by this debut album from New England progressives, that's something which should be rectified immediately! The year 2013 must be the twelve months of the space based concept album, where vast journeys through the endless darkness result in introspection and an awareness of both self, and humanity as a whole. Home Away From Home follows in a similar vein and, if that sounds like your thing, is covered here ably. However it is musically where Elephants Of Scotland really delight and across the six songs that make for a especially by Prog terms relatively short introduction to this band, there really isn't a moment wasted.

"Geograph" kicks in, keyboards dominating over an insistent hi-hat shuffle and ringing tom work, guitars merely underpinning the glorious melodies that are already painting pictures and setting scenes. Everything here is busy, working to the max, but still leaving bags of room for the song to breath, while keyboardist Adam Rabin's vocals bring a real storytelling vibe to a crystal clear mix, which Rabin himself provided; he and his band also expertly producing the whole shebang. "Full Power" surges into view next, proving to be one of my favourite tracks of the whole year, the Ozric Tentacles meets Saga vibe of the opening track replaced with something altogether more relaxed. Again the keyboards take command, haunting melody lines once more bouncing off gloriously 80s sounding tom clatters from Ornan McLean. However it is the sheer beauty and unforgettable nature of the keyboard melodies which make this song a triumph and a track which implores you back to hear it again and again. If you're looking for reference points, you can add Rush, King Crimson and Presto Ballet to the Ozrician, Saga mix already alluded to. However fair to suggest this is all scintillating melody driven Prog and be done with it.

Bassist Dan MacDonald comes more to the fore in "Starboard", his expansive playing adding more depth to a song not exactly lacking in that direction, the bottom end humming and thrumming as once more keyboards set the scene. Here however the guitars suddenly insist on bursting through for the first time, John Whyte rivalling his keys-mate for domination, and also taking lead vocal duties for this song. The results are the most Rush like sound in evidence here but again it is done extremely well and in a way that gently persuades, rather any attempt to "in your face", or "look at me", most bands insist upon; less often providing so much more.

From there "The Seed" atmospherically builds like Jarre, stumbling into Season's End era Marillion, Rabin's vocals possessing a strangely beguiling 80s Pop sheen while never sounding out of place, before the album's title track bombastically struts and strides on a reggae like strike of guitar and dancing keys. Leaving the closing, eleven minutes of "Errol McSquisitor" to illustrate that this four piece are as adept at constructing long winding soundscapes, as they are more succinct bouts of memorability. The song, as is the album, is a triumph and once more allows the wonderful coming together of restrained fret work, more insistent keys, stage setting bass, relaxed vocals and intricate rhythmical bursts. The results are wonderful.

Home Away From Home is a place any lover of Melodic Prog will adore spending time and with it Elephants Of Scotland have produced an album that makes me immensely frustrated that my "end of year" list has already been submitted. For there's no doubt that it deserves a rightful place as one of the best albums I've heard all year.

Track Listing
1. Geograph
2. Full Power
3. Starboard
4. The Seed
5. Home Away From Home
6. Errol McSquisitor

Added: December 16th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Elephants Of Scotland Online
Hits: 2351
Language: english

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