Electric Shepherd – The Imitation Garden

Electric Shepherd - The Imitation Garden

Electric Shepherd – The Imitation Garden

The cover of The Imitation Garden might lead the CD buyer to expect any number of things. Soporifically harmonic artfolk, abrasive electronica, densely performed ambient soundscaping – you may hear elements of all of these at various moments throughout the album but at its centre, Electric Shepherd‘s debut full length release is a Heavy Rock album, one that draws much of its inspiration from the freeform improvisatory styles of the first wave of Psychedelic musicians, whether those of the bands native San Francisco or from England and Europe. Their music contains numerous strands of influence but my own and perhaps your lasting impression of Electric Shepherd is of a band whose imaginative retake on experimental ProgRock comes across like a near bewildering collision of ideas – part experimental improvisation, part stadium level Rock N Roll excess, it’s a thunderous juggernaut of an album that takes its inspirations and reshapes them into a form that’s very far from just retro reverence for the 60s and 70s. I haven’t heard a band take this many risks with their music for a very long time (perhaps it was Modey Lemon, or The Hunches) and the results of their forward thinking and musically prescient approach are just about verging upon spectacular.

The Electric Shepherd sound is one based around double timed drumming, intricate guitar and bass interplay, a keen sense of melody and a chaotic and incendiary no holds barred heavosity that not too many bands I’ve heard recently can really bring off with credibility. This is a band that takes the most convoluted route they can find to achieve their destinations, and it’s a spiraling, powerdriven and notably well performed sound they conjure throughout the album, never missing an opportunity to add an intricate solo or push the rhythmic structures of their mostly instrumental tracks. There’s also a PostRock dissonance to balance the metallic contortions on display and there’s very much more than one side to Electric Shepherd’s music, but if there’s one band whose influence can be heard consistently across The Imitation Garden, that is inescapably Led Zeppelin, a band whose intricacies Electric Shepherd are obviously very familiar with and the pacing of the tracks, the ever more developed guitar work and the moments of overwhelming power surges only lack the glass shattering falsetto of a Robert Plant sound-alike to bring that authentic Zep Vibe to the proceedings.

Fans of Heavy Rock will get a lot from The Imitation Garden, an album that takes classic Metal templates and gives them a PostRock infusion that’s both skilfull and inspired. It’s also worth noting that the band take a literary cue from the work of Sci Fi writer Philip K Dick, an idea that their listeners might want to explore in some depth – the phrase ‘Electric Shepherd’ is taken from Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? and as a writer whose work was at various times visceral, prophetic, surreal and several other adjectives, it’s easy to imagine Dick himself nodding appreciatively along to Electric Shepherd were he ever to appear via some cortex powered transmutation device at one of their live shows. The fact that I was reading a collection of his short stories when I received theĀ The Imitation Garden promo is something that I’ll put down to coincidence, and if there’s ever a remake of Blade Runner the idea of either Electric Shepherd or a similar band providing the soundtrack is, I think, a very interesting one.