[Review] Shaman Elephant – Wide Awake But Still Asleep

Shaman Elephant are a Norwegian quartet that offers Prog sounds with marked Psychedelic influences from the period between the 1960s and 1970s. Their debut album “Crystal” was released in 2016, immediately showcasing the band’s ability to blend these two genres, followed by “Wide Awake But Still Asleep” released for Karisma Records on May 29, 2020. Contains 7 tracks and it is available in different versions on LP as well as on CD and Digital, confirming and perfecting the good things heard in the previous album. The opener “Wide Awake but Still Asleep” starts the drum cymbals in the distance and a repeated psychedelic and hypnotic guitar, creating a lysergic atmosphere to which the other instruments are added. The rhythmic session is slow with deep bass lines and an elaborate and constantly changing drum, on which the melodies of keyboards and guitar intertwine. In the second part the theme is developed by plowing more Progressive terrains, with a vocal that alternates softer moments with others more aggressive. A good start, which immediately shows the different influences and sonic facets of the band’s sound. “H.M.S. Death, Rattle and Roll” is a tighter track with a decidedly more accelerated rhythm than the previous one, and an excellent duet between guitar and keyboards with penetrating bass lines. In the central part with a change we enter a softer section that leads us to a guitar solo full of effects halfway between Psychedelia and Space Rock. With the return to the initial theme the piece closes with a massive dose of keyboards, entirely instrumental is well developed and performed. “Steely Dan” has a more elaborate structure and more Prog than the previous ones with excellent layers of keyboards that recall the sounds of the early 70s. The melodies are positive and the intertwining of guitar and organ is always pleasant, with the latter carving out more space, while the vocal is in line with the sounds of the past that distinguish this piece, which is truly exquisite. “Ease of Mind” begins with acoustic guitar and a warm vocal, and then the piano, a soft orchestral carpet and a more percussive rhythmic session are inserted, giving life to a mainly acoustic, smooth and tone-damping passage. With “Magnets” we return to Psych/Prog territory with a tight drum, killer bass lines and the good combination of guitar riffs and keyboard layers. The vocal is decisive and best suited to the various phases of the piece, which recalls the period of the late 60s, with a modern and personal touch. “Traveler” is the longest track on the album, with its 11:28 min, which starts immediately with decision, between acid guitar riffs, a rocky and very elaborate drum, creating a perfect combination of Progressive and Psychedelic Rock. The vocal offers a high level test, alternating more melodic moments with others more aggressive with ease, following the continuous changes of the music, whose structure is developed by creating a mixture between the two genres with quality cues. In the central part it acquires intensity and is elaborated with frequent tempo changes, and an effected vocal is inserted at times choral that adapts perfectly to the piece. The guitar is the protagonist of the second part of the track, with a decisive and supporting bass line and an accelerated rhythm, and then closes this song with atmospheric effects that summarizes all the stylistic influences of Shaman Elephant sound. Closes the album “Strange Illusions” which begins with a deep bass and a warm and expressive vocal and then with a change gain power by inserting heavier guitar riffs and a massive drum. The alternation between softer openings, fine guitar inserts and different rhythm changes bring the sound to a high level, with one of the best vocal tests on the album and an excellent solo in the finale. An album that confirms and improves what they heard in their debut, good structures and plots built around the phrasing between guitar and keyboards. The rhythmic session consists of an elaborate and constantly changing drum, creating well-made tempo changes, while the vocal part is one of the strengths of the album, with the singing that adapts to the different phases of the album with expressiveness. A recommended listening for lovers of the sounds of the period between the 60s and 70s, a winning blend between Psychedelia and Progressive with Space Rock veins, a pleasant listening with good ideas.

Tracklist

1. Wide Awake But Still Asleep (8:05)
2. H.M.S: Death, Rattle And Roll (4:11)
3. Steely Dan (3:56)
4. Ease Of Mind (3:24)
5. Magnets (3:56)
6. Traveler (11:28)
7. Strange Illusions (5:15)

Lineup

Eirik Sejersted Vognstølen / Guitar, Vocals
Jard Hole / Drums
Ole-Andreas Sæbø Jensen / Bass
Jonas Særsten / Keyboards

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Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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