Montreal-based modern psych-pop band Elephant Stone announced their new EP Le voyage de M. Lonely dans la lune, out February 18 via Elephants On Parade. Along with the announcement, they also shared the first glimpse into the EP with the single + video “La fusée du chagrin” (“The Rocket of Sorrow”), a trippy, psychedelic experience that follows M. Lonely, the EP’s titular character, on a journey into space. Rishi Dhir, who has helmed the band for the past thirteen years expands, “The song is about M. Lonely boarding a rocketship to the moon… so I felt that the music should be high intensity, while also ebbing and flowing with the journey. I am sci-fi obsessed, so, as in the past with ‘Andromeda’, I included a snippet of audio from NASA for the intro and the middle section – maybe you can decipher the morse code?”
Le voyage de M. Lonely dans la lune is thematically connected to the band’s previous album Hollow, a conceptual record where Elephant Stone confronts the questions around a dying earth and how humanity can survive. Le voyage de M. Lonely dans la lune picks up the personal aspects of survival, and what that means with or without people. “I built this storyline about a hermit who is very content in his solitary world, until a world event happens that causes everyone else to stay home as well…sound familiar?” Dhir explains. “He sees this as a mockery of him and his choices, deciding instead to build a rocket ship to the moon to be left alone.” Unraveling over the course of four songs with raucous hooks and voltaic synths on the first two tracks, and lonely, soft melodies on the last two, M. Lonely, Dhir says, “ultimately realizes he was happier back on imperfect earth with all of its imperfect people.”
In Elephant Stone, Dhir has woven stories of loss and grief, existential crisis and rebirth, and a world withering away, all set to elegant, intense droning music. What Dhir knows – and something so many of us can relate to over the past two years – is presented with such clarity on Le voyage de M. Lonely dans la lune. The EP is sung entirely in French, a departure for the English-speaking band. The record is what Dhir calls a “love letter to Montreal, Quebec, and all of our French-speaking fans around the world.” While Dhir, a first generation Indian immigrant with very strong cultural ties to the motherland, was born and raised in Montreal, he’s always had a strong connection with French-speaking friends and fans.
Elephant Stone was born out of a need for refuge for Dhir. After playing in bands such as The Datsons andThe High Dials, he picked up the sitar and began writing about personal experiences, leading to a carved out niche in the modern psych-rock genre by infusing it with some pop sensibilities. As a highly-regarded sitar player, Dhir has also collaborated with indie-rock icons like Beck, and legendary cult bands like The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Black Angels, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, The Dream Syndicate, and many more. Dhir’s journey with music, in and out of Elephant Stone, was wrought with trying to find a place that fit him until he decided that what he made was worth sharing in the space that he created for himself. The best kind of music, and the stories paired with those sounds, often begin with that internal excavation. “I only write about what I know and think I understand. As long as there’s Rishi, there’s going to be Elephant Stone.”
Photo Courtesy: Bowen Stead