Shaman Elephant - Crystals album review

Promising debut from heavy psych prog Norwegians

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There’s definitely something in the water in Norway. Spearheaded by the Rune Grammofon label, an astonishing cornucopia of jazz/prog/avant rock has spilled out of this corner of Scandinavia in recent years. Shaman Elephant continue this surge, with RG mainstays Motorpsycho and Bushman’s Revenge being useful references.

But the heavy psychedelic prog of Crystals also leans in a proto-hard rock direction, the title track mixing the 70s pomp of Uriah Heep with some Rhodes vamping. There’s a Yes-like, new-agey vibe to Shaman In The Woods, while I.A.B. almost strays into pop metal territory. But the second half of the album is where the band hit their stride. Tusco is a jazzy instrumental, its weaving piano and subtly propulsive rhythm recalling the sadly missed E.S.T. In contrast, The Jazz is an explosive grind that switches up into Zeppelin-esque funk rock. Finally, Stoned Conceptions starts mellow before unfurling into doomy grandiosity, suggesting the drug-induced existential crisis at 3am of its title. Crystals is a decent debut from a young band still figuring out their musical identity. It occasionally falls between stools, but works hard to entertain and engage the listener throughout.