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Shaman Elephant — Wide Awake But Still Asleep
(Karisma KAR157, 2020, CD / LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2021-02-13

Wide Awake But Still Asleep Cover art

Wide Awake But Still Asleep shows that Shaman Elephant’s excellent debut album was no fluke. This is a fine set of Canterbury-inflected psychedelic progressive rock that harks back to the 70s without being cliched or retro. Maybe my imagination is getting a little out of hand, but I find similarities to Khan’s Space Shanty along with touches of Camel and Caravan plus some breezy grooves that hint at Gong. Lovers of vintage keyboard sounds will be pleased to hear the great electric piano, Mellotron, and organ playing which is so prominent throughout, with the piano and organ often overdriven for really gutsy tones. The track “Steely Dan” pays tribute to the titular group, though it sounds very little like anything Steely Dan ever did — Mellotrons were never their thing, and they are definitely in Shaman Elephant’s idiom. On the longer tracks like “Traveller,” the sound is a bit reminiscent of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, with insistent riffs topped by soaring melodies and swooping synthesizers. Another favorite is “H.M.S. Death, Rattle and Roll,” which has a fast riff in 5/4 played on distorted bass guitar and a unison melody on lead guitar and distorted electric piano. “Ease of Mind” features a lot of folk-blues inflected acoustic guitar before bringing in acoustic piano and the rest of the band. Shaman Elephant has an immensely appealing sound, and Wide Awake But Still Asleep is a sure winner.

Filed under: New releases, 2020 releases

Related artist(s): Shaman Elephant

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