Reflections of a Floating World

Written by: MIN on 31/07/2017 10:32:08

Since the release of their highly praised third LP, ”Lore”, New Bedford, MA-based stoner/progressive rock band Elder have added two additional studio musicians to their artillery, Michael Samos and Michael Risberg, who helps out on pedal and regular guitars. The addition allows Elder to toy more with the increasingly evident psychedelic soundscapes while keeping the monstrous riffing and virtuosic musicianship intact on this, their fourth full-length record, “Reflections of a Floating World”. Although minor changes occur between releases, rest assured that the band still has no intention of catering to the masses, as their songs are still intricate and difficult, and their structures as lengthy as ever, ranging between 8:40 and a little less than fourteen minutes, cementing that Elder’s music is still very much for the connoisseurs and the curious.

Once again, Elder’s latest effort is a feast of killer leads, interesting rhythmic breakdowns and tidal waves of sonic euphoria. The album’s longest track, “Blind”, allows itself half a minute of distorted intro before the actual musicians kick in and deliver the foundational tempo for the 13:23 duration. A few intricate guitar-departures keep things alive during the next sixty seconds, and suddenly a piano breaks the sound barrier and a hollow and haunting backdrop paves the way for Nick DiSalvo’s vocals. Flatline, kick-start, up and at ‘em once more: the aforementioned tempo now works alongside DiSalvo’s voice, which, admittedly, isn’t anything special, but it’s good enough to keep us interested and complements the ominous atmosphere. Next thing you know, a breakdown lets in the rhythm-section before a fiery guitar solo burns your speakers, but only long enough to leave you wanting more. It’d be weird to call all of these transitions formulaic, but bear with me when I say that the first five and a half minutes have only just established the song’s template, and the remainder is a further examination of the band’s limits. Several melodic and more tranquil breaks occur, but none more prominent than the final one where the bass guitar and the drums get in-sync to initiate the song’s glorious yet understated ending.

An increased focus on the interplay between drums and bass continues as the instrumental "Sonntag" picks up where “Blind” left off with a mesmerizing groove, spontaneous guitar picks and strange, spacey Theremin-usage. The song is a nice break from the huge riffing, yet at the same time I’m lacking a certain endgame. The groove remains until the song suddenly fades out, and I can’t help but feel that – despite the soothing, jazzy looseness “Sonntag” provides – I need something big to finish it off; something that makes the journey worthwhile. And I guess that’s my main concern about “Reflections of a Floating World” in general: it lacks purpose. The album’s brilliantly performed and there’s enough going on to keep you interested, but I’m not really sure what’s at stake. The Baroness-like heaviness (“Sanctuary”) and the intricate progressive and psychedelic webs akin to the past glories of Yes (“The Falling Veil”) are respectfully delivered, but I’m rarely finding that special part that’ll keep me coming back. It doesn’t feel like there are any emotions or a certain agenda at stake which I’m able to relate to, and although I respect Elder’s uncompromising effort, it’s just that which keeps me from giving them that extra nod up.

There can be raised no questions about the band’s impressive craftsmanship, and the record’s flourishing production keeps the gigantic beast alive and dynamic throughout, but I’m missing that extra something. I need to sometimes feel that the music is hanging by a thread when I’m listening to it, and I don’t get that from “Reflections of a Floating World”. What I do get, however, is an exceptionally well-played record that makes me marvel several times through its duration; the musicians feel each other and there’s a sense of improvisation and a strength that most bands would kill to have, which ultimately still makes Elder’s latest outing a crucial colossus in the world of modern progressive rock and stoner.

Download: Sanctuary, The Falling Veil, Blind
For The Fans Of: Yob, Mastodon, Baroness, Yes, Pallbearer
Listen: Facebook

Release date 02.06.2017
Armageddon Label

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