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Shaman Elephant: Wide Awake But Still Asleep

One of the underground successes of 2016, groove laden Norwegians Shaman Elephant made a rather stunning impact with their full length debut Crystals. The wait may have been verging on lengthy but then good things and all that, yeah? Oh yeah! Wide Awake But Still Asleep, which could be seen as a perfect comment on most of modern life - as we slumber-walk through other people’s directed events and wishes - being a rather uncompromising bout of melodically injected maelstroms. Progressive this album may be and fusion fed there’s no doubt it is, however, if I was tied down, beaten with a pair of pre-soaked dungarees and forced to describe this album in less than three words, I would scream between welt inducing smacks, “Full Force!” Shaman Elephant ain’t mucking about here. Yes, there’s a preamble, and yes, there are many flavours to savours but if you allow just one millimetre of your neck flesh to catch the light, Wide Awake But Still Asleep is going for the throat snarling, spitting and able to scoop you up in a gooey mass of heady musical emotions.

Why single out individual tracks when the journey across this album ebbs, flows and evolves as such a cohesive whole? Surges of organ and keys and synths and guitars and drums and bass hoisted to the top of the mountain and then pushed tumbling down again. The adrenalin rush is there for all to hear and yet the expected crushing crash never comes. Instead the jostling, justling, hustling, bustling results in a heady wallop that always just remains in control. It’s track three before vocals come fully into play and again they possess a barely describable energy, while always feeling fully in control. The pulses of beats come thick and fast, yet paced and precise, while the mix of stringed strumming and key-sparks and spews gently caresses the skin and soothes all it touches. Contradictions abound, answering any questions you may have satisfyingly, but with ever more possible solutions and quandaries. Fans of the less controlled side of Beardfish will recognise this rocky, rugged yet safe as houses terrain, knowing full well that Shaman Elephant are pushing at boundaries while being sure in the knowledge that the hands carrying them are secure. Some moments do calm the near constant careening, making both aspects all the more captivating and the results all the more obviously sublime.

Shaman Elephant should be as huge as the beast that forms half their name. Their music is certainly that imposing but, as they did on their debut, with Wide Awake But Still Asleep, that uncompromising statement finds this band delivering their message with an amazing amount poise and balance. This is a hell of ride but be assured that you’ll arrive right back where you started invigorated and ready to begin the journey all over again.

Track Listing
1. Wide Awake But Still Asleep
2. HMS Death Rattle And Roll
3. Steely Dan
4. Ease Of Mind
5. Magnets
6. Traveller
Part 1 - Vanishing Point Of View
Part 2 - Inner Space
Part 3 - No One Knows
7. Strange Illusions

Added: December 5th 2020
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Shaman Elephant @ bandcamp
Hits: 569
Language: english

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