Brossard, Québec-born, Montréal-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rishi Dhir is a grizzled indie rock and psych rock veteran , who has played in a number of bands, including The Datsons and The High Dials. He is also an in-demand sitarist and bassist, who has collaborated with Beck, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Black Angels, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, The Dream Syndicate, psych rock supergroup MIEN and countless others.
Dhir founded the acclaimed psych rock outfit and JOVM mainstays Elephant Stone back in 2009. Along with collaborators and bandmates Miles Duper (drums), Gab Lambert (guitar), Robbie MacArthur (guitar) and Jason Kent (keys, guitar), the Montréal-based band has released six albums, including 2013’s self-titled album and 2020’s acclaimed Hollow. They’ve also released a handful of EPs including last year’s Francophone Le Voyage de M. Lonely dans la Lune. Each of those efforts has seen them develop, refine and firmly cement a sound that frequently incorporates elements of traditional Indian classical music with Western psych rock paired with introspective lyrics rooted in Dihr’s personal experiences.
Dihr’s own journey in music frequently found him tryin to find a place that fit him, until he decided that what he made was worth sharing in the space that he had created for himself. “I only write about what I know and think I understand. As long as there’s Rishi, there’s going to be Elephant Stone,” Dhir says in press notes.
2023 has been a busy year for the Canadian psych rock outfit: Earlier this year they released Dawn, Day, Dusk, which featured “Godstar,” and “The Imajinary, Nameless Everybody In The World.” Those two tracks saw the band continuing their narrative journey through crating material that deftly balanced human complexity with introspective themes paired with an evolving sound.
They followed that up with “Lost In A Dream,” a song built around a Tame Impala-like groove, while continuing their long-held reputation for dexterous guitar work, catchy hooks and introspective lyrics. “Creating ‘Lost In A Dream’ has been a thrilling journey for us, one where the fascination with dreams and their mysterious ties to reality took center stage,” the band’s Rishi Dhir says. “While there are subtle hints of inspirations like The Nazz’s ‘Open My Eyes‘ and Echo and the Bunnymen‘s ‘Killing Moon,’ this song is really about charting our own musical course. We’ve woven an auditory landscape that we hope allows listeners to dive into their thoughts and dreams. It’s all about losing yourself in the music, in the narrative it spins, and finding a resonance within your own life.”
Elephant Stone’s highly-anticipated seven album, Back Into the Dream is slated for a February 23, 2024 release. The album will reportedly feature a harmonious blend of introspective lyrics and entrancing melodies that represent the latest culmination of their musical evolution. Thematically, the album explores the mysteries of dreams, capturing the cycle of sleep and wakefulness. As the band’s Dhir puts it, “Our music aims to bridge the gap between the known and the unknown.” Previously released tracks “Godstar” and “The Imajinary, Nameless Everybody in the World,” draw from the themes of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation, delving into the intricacies of human existence, creation, life and death while “Lost In A Dream,” is an exploration of dream-like states and blurred realities.
Last month, I wrote about Back into the Dream single “The Spark,” a breezy power pop-meets-jangle-pop take on psych pop built around soaring electric guitar, strummed acoustic guitar and Dihr’s earnest, plaintive falsetto paired with the band’s unerring knack for crafting enormous, remarkably catchy hooks and choruses.
“Crafting a song is like tapping into a kind of magic that exists beyond the realm of the ordinary. I’m in perpetual pursuit of that elusive sensation—the spark that turns fleeting thoughts into something immortal,” the band’s Rishi Dhir admits. “’The Spark’ is my love letter to the art of songwriting, a tribute to the creative process itself. It’s about that serendipitous moment when time and space align, allowing you to capture lightning in a bottle.”
Back into the Dream‘s third and latest single “History Repeating” sees the band blending their dreamy, 60s psych sound with slick, modern and hi-fi flourishes: The track is built around an arrangement of swirling and washed out tambourines, jangling, reverb-soaked guitar, twinkling keys, glistening synths paired with Dihr’s plaintive delivery. But despite the song’s ethereal nature, the song lyrically is centered around Canadian indigenous history, serving as a plea for reparations owed to the country’s First Nations people.
“History has a haunting tendency to repeat itself, from the scars of colonialism to the rise of authoritarian regimes,” says frontman and songwriter Rishi Dhir. “It’s as if we’re trapped in a loop, forever replaying the same tragedies. ‘History Repeating’ is my way of confronting these harsh realities, particularly as they relate to my home country of Canada, which was built on the deeply troubling foundations of genocide and ethnic cleansing targeted at Indigenous peoples. In recent years, thanks to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the appalling truths about our past have been laid bare…This song serves as an urgent plea: let’s break the cycle. Let’s learn from the darkest chapters of our history to create a more just and compassionate future.”