Invisible Elephant – Anomie Or Swimming In A Black Sea

Invisible Elephant - Anomie Or Swimming In A Black Sea

Invisible Elephant - Anomie Or Swimming In A Black Sea

The anonymous musician behind Invisible Elephant is creating soundscapes that, at least on paper, owe much to some often quoted influences – Sonic Youth, MBV, Mogwai, and while it’s possible to trace other creative debts in the swirling instrumental void that the tracks on Anomie conjure – Cocteau Twins, Eno, Spacemen 3 – the album has a focus and clarity that goes quite some way beyond merely rewriting the chord structures of “Here Come The Warm Jets” and “Loveless”: a skilled, innovative musician/s, Invisible Elephant is/are very much more than the sum of their influences, and while paying suitable homage to some of the best known experimental practitioners, IV take their listeners on a melodic and texturally structured ambient prog excursion that is very much of their own design.

First of the 9 tracks, “Commercial Appeal”, is a delicately played keyboard piece, with the sound of playing children woven into it. It’s at once reflective and also mildly sinister, and one of four tracks on the album that are less than two minutes in length. Next song “Everything” is of a very different cut though: a deftly phrased guitar introduces a ballad which, just when I was expecting a repetitive chord sequence is lifted by a chorus that brings a near spiritual depth to what began as a two chord strum. It’s a deeply felt and near masterful exercise in developing a song from the least complicated of beginnings. “Where Is Home From Here?” is an extension of the first track, piano and echoing background soundtrack (of birdsong) and also quite short, but next song, “Wish”, with its picked guitar melody and multi tracked vocal (by guest vocalist Ryli) is gently paced and suddenly spectacular in its intensities, and the fading vocal loop which the song ends with only magnifies its effect.

“When It’s All Over” is at over seven minutes the longest track on Anomie, again built around a basic two chord structure which is continually overlaid with a mixture of guitar and keyboard inserts and phased percussion, developing into a near anthemic conclusion. “Room 208” follows, a brief interlude of industrial noise sculpture, and the sonorous keyboard riff of “Do You Believe” is a sudden contrast. It’s also perhaps the album’s strongest track, the keyboard and vocal overlaid with sudden bursts of guitar harmonics which just as swiftly pull back to the keyboard motif. “Black Sound” has IV revealing their garage punk roots and nods firmly in the direction of the JAMC, grinding wall of feedback included. Finally, “Back In The Box” seems almost like an afterthought, an acoustic number, again around two minutes, and ends with the chimes of an antique musical box.

I would like to hear more of Invisible Elephant, and not just their next releases. The one flaw in Anomie is the shorter tracks which, for reasons known only to the Elephant, aren’t developed beyond what seem like sketches for longer, more cohesive songs. The result of this is that Anomie doesn’t quite succeed as a full album, it’s more like an EP with obliquely vague inserts to separate the proper songs. Perhaps this makes me sound like a dyed in the wool three minute pop song traditionalist, but after hearing “Wish” and “Do You Believe?” I actually did want to hear more of the consistently inspired songwriting that IV bring to their Bandcamp site, and at an almost shockingly reasonable price too. Invisible Elephant aren’t letting us in on all of the joke just yet.