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Elf Power
Back To The Web
Rykodisc Records

A darkened room, thick velvet drapes drawn against the harsh sunlight. Oriental hangings decorate the walls, the smell of incense hangs heavy in the air, and paisley-bedecked hipsters lounge to the strains of the soft, vaguely psychedelic sounds wafting from the record player.

Listening to this latest work from Elf Power brought back those halcyon days in Haight-Ashbury (well, not that I was there myself, having grown up musically on 70s punk - but my mother in law told me all about it). First time listeners could be forgiven for assuming they're listening to a reissue of some long-lost soft-psych classic from the 60s, but Elf Power turns out to be very much a band of the present. They're part of the Elephant 6 collective that spawned such musical jesters as Neutral Milk Hotel and The Olivia Tremor Control, and have been making mind-altering records like this for over ten years now. If you're partial to The Byrds' softer moments, The Zombies or The Left Banke, to name but a few, you could do worse than investigate here.

The songs on Back To The Web are mostly pretty, and acoustic-based, with sweet-voiced singer / instrumentalists Andrew Weiger and Laura Carter harmonizing the frequently hallucinogenic lyrics . "Rolling Black Water" is a fine example, very atmospheric with its acoustic guitar, hand percussion and some lovely cello at the end. Some songs like "King of Earth" recall more traditional folk music, or at least the type of prog-folk the likes of The Incredible String Band used to traffick in. "Somewhere Down the River" brings a darker mood with its vaguely Arabic melody and distorted electric guitar, while "Back to the Web" itself closes the album on a more overtly Eastern theme, using droning violins to embellish an up-and-down melody.

This sounds like a fine album for those long, hazy summer days ahead, and makes me want to delve further into the work of Elf Power and Elephant 6 in general.

-Gareth Bowles

Track list:
1. Come Lie Down with Me (and Sing My Song)
2. An Old Familiar Scene
3. Rolling Black Water
4. King of Earth
5. Peel Back the Moon, Beware !
6. 23rd Dream
7. Somewhere Down the River
8. The Spider and the Fly
9. Forming
10. All the World is Waiting
11. Under the Northern Sky
12. Back to the Web

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