Thursday 18 July 2019

Elder - The Gold & Silver Sessions (2019)

Country: USA
Style: Psychedelic Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 12 Jul 2019
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I've been getting things done today and it was instantly relaxing to return to my office, throw on some new Elder and start to chill before sleep. This isn't what we normally expect from the band and deliberately so. The label Blues Funeral Recordings have set up a PostWax project to challenge bands to attempt things they wouldn't usually do on their regular albums. That means that Elder got quiet.

This is instrumental psychedelic rock that's engaging but easy to listen to, not the much louder and heavier stoner/doom metal with vocals that's filled four highly regarded studio albums from them thus far. The name comes from a side project of multi-instrumentalist main man Nick DiSalvo, Gold & Silver and the cover turns those into the sun and the moon, opposites but somehow symbiotes. It's a different angle to Elder but what's telling is that, even so, it's still an impressive release.

There are only three tracks here on what they're calling an EP but, at well over thirty minutes, this is longer than many albums that I've reviewed of late. All are instrumental attempts to find grooves and create soundscapes, though they vary a good deal. The shortest takes up a mere five and a half minutes and the longest runs way past eighteen. They each have a different sound.

The first track is called Illusory Motion and that's a really apt title. I felt emphatically comfortable sat in my chair writing while the music took me somewhere else entirely. Eight minutes in, it becomes lively, suggesting that there's danger wherever we've ended up but it's all going to be fine. Don't worry. This is the most psychedelic track here and it's definitely a trip, but it's an enjoyable one, wherever it took me.

Im Morgengrauen is smoother still, flowing like a river for over half its running time. It appropriately starts out with echoing synths, given that Morgengrauen is the dawn. It's surprising to find Elder sound like an exotic Barry White number, but the guitar refuses to play that sultry game. The band have always been as progressive as psychedelic and this is very much the former rather than the latter. Stoner fans may dig this, but it's not stoner rock, it's instrumental prog in a laid back Pink Floyd way. Maybe it gets a little busier for Floyd later on, but hey.

Weißensee, presumably named for the district in Berlin, is very Tangerine Dream. The core of it is repetitive but it has little touches here and there to keep it interesting and the track builds. Patience is a virtue! It evolves into something more like a Grateful Dead jam and then, around the sixteen minute mark, it kicks in with the church organ and then rocks out for a few minutes to the close. It's the perfect way to energise me and make me want to play the whole thing again.

I wonder how this will be received by Elder fans, of whom there are plenty nowadays after Lore put them emphatically on the map and Reflections of a Floating World made a lot of end of year lists and escalated their profile. The Gold & Silver Sessions is not what they usually do, but it's compatible with it and, in its quiet way, it's pretty inventive. I think it'll work just fine for the diehards and bring some more fans on board too. Good stuff is good stuff.

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