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Desolate landscapes, strange planets, goofy monsters, bong clouds, all coaxing one another in a semi-lurid art package. This more or less throws light or casts a shadow on the average stoner/doom release. The music? A third grade candy confectionary of redundant riffs reduced to a pace just above a crawl. More like a cheap plea to get one noticed to what is usually a subpar affair. The sheer volume of records of this particular breed this decade has only made the matter even worse. Let’s admit it…stoner rock has almost devolved into the nu metalcore. Maybe not as revolting but as adamant in shamelessly cloning their progenitors and hasty enough to get to oblivion. Barring a few nobody bloody remembers any particular release. Regardless they’ve seemingly carved their own niche, nay, kitsch/grave.

And yet not all’s lost…

It’s at this particular juncture that we look up to the more experimental purveyors of the genre. Elder is one band that’s clearly in that league showing a rare reflexive capacity throughout their oeuvre. Their debut was your average meat and potatoes sludge doom, and yet it had its share of interesting melodies and quirks(acoustic outro in’hexe’) which made it rather endearing. The sophomore had a deep Sleep vibe with the guitars finding more room to weave more intricate melodies. Despite its rather derivative quality I actually prefer this to the much lauded follow-up ‘Lore’. Lore sees the band releasing long lost vaults of  resplendent and heavy 60-70’s kraut rock onto their sound. And yet sometimes I find myself agreeing to the qualm that held that it did go on a tad longer with some of the last tracks turning out to be extended jams riding on low cohesion. All this notwithstanding the band still has  a varied discography..

‘Reflections of a Floating World’ then is an album that limns in a deeper self-reflection of the band themselves. Perhaps serving as a kaleidoscope to gaze on the material yet exterior present. The album sees the band look down the summit, at the path they’ve literally crawled up, a realization of the change that has overcome them. In effect it is new ground yet it is rooted in the ideals not yet forsaken.

‘Reflections of a Floating World’ as an album thus aptly feels like a ‘controlled’ elation of sorts. A celebration of their newfound verve hinted at in Lore but blooming here. The girth in ambition is obvious, but more obvious is the need to stand ground. The riffs serenade the listener into a hedonistic trance. They remind one of Eye-Shaking King off Amon Duul II’s seminal ‘Yeti’. It seems more or less an extension of that essence, that laid back extended jam, yet more cohesive and directed like never before. An essence that is not long lost but sometimes finding expression in modern day bands like Samsara Blues Experiement and Colour Haze and par excellence. Elder tunes up the heaviness quotient and spins their own web of radiant heavy rock. But sometimes one wonders how much the band’s ingenuity can be attributed to the very fact that something like Kraut Rock grew up in opposition to the British/Americanized version of prog rock and as a result were denied larger exposure. Elder I bet wouldn’t mind in them being a gateway drug to newer musical pastures as creative and ideologically driven.

Their latest trumps all their past releases, especially their previous ones in just being memorable. Long after the songs have ceased to play it is still likely that you’d remember the opening sequences and lead riffs of each song. For instance the bubbly riffs that follows up the first stanza sung in The Falling Veil and goes onto appear subsequently at different parts of the song.  The initial clean guitars of Staving off the Truth subtly ripple to a premature climax only to pause and then unleash a bluesy whale of a riff. One can almost picture oneself riding the beast crashing the waves in brilliant colour . While the mid-section of Blind, probably the best track off the record, having a more ‘Lore’-like vibe, splashes and sends rivulets of gratifying glee sauntering across the rugged land (pictured in the cover art perhaps). Beautiful.. It just is..Its these elating and sometimes ethereal moments that make this a truly remarkable release.  Identity, is clearly, for once identifiable…

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Deckard Cain "Where the actions of hell seem straightforwardly bent on destruction, the motives of heaven are unfathomable." "Stay awhile and listen."