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MUSIC ON-SITE-LOPEDIA, Looking for a CD? Can't name that song? Got a question? Ask Sugar!

Elephant Sun - Perceptions
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Elephant Sun How many roads must a (SA) band walk down before they call you a band? Difficult question if you're a new, young and keen SA band and want to find a niche in the burgeoning local music scene. There's the perennial punk and heavy metal adherents, the Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Counting Crows school of slow angst rock, or those who simply attempt to ape whatever hip new alternative sounds are coming out of London. Hmmm got to stay current and fashionable to be heard.

So here's the debut CD from Elephant Sun. Boys with guitars and harmonies who it seems have been raiding their parents' '60s and '70s record collections for inspiration. I have been listening to a pre-release cassette of this for some weeks now and still cannot identify all the influences on it. So I gave up and just let this this indefinable collection of songs seep slowly into my brain where they are now all permanently lodged. But it's so annoying not to play spot-the-influence so I'll devote one sentence to it and then get on with it. Love's 'Forever Changes', Indigo Girls, Juluka, Moody Blues, Shawn Phillips, Gravy Train and Derek and the Dominoes. There, I've said it (and you're welcome to add your own selections).

Ten songs, ten styles. Acoustic and electric guitars twine around each other like two snogging snakes. Intelligent lyrics sung clearly and in beautifully arranged harmonies. 'African Silence', 'Captive' and 'Sail The Sun' swirl around like rock hymns. You search the very cool booklet for the names of the female backing vocalists and find that they've either been accidentaly omitted or those sweet choirboy vocals are handled exclusively by the two guitarists Christopher Smith and Criston Sloan. These two started Elephant Sun and have co-written most of the material on 'Perceptions'. Justin de Klerk (drums) and Craig Strachan (bass) are the competent rhythm section but this is largely the Smith and Sloan show and they've grabbed their first CD opportunity with both hands and full voices. The entire album was recorded, engineered and mixed in three days by Dirk van Straaten. Full credit to him for fusing this wide range of material into a crystal-clear and seamless whole.

'Owed To A Traffic Light' is a seven -part, 17-and-a-half-minute track that really is an 'ode' to a traffic light, similar to those long, sweeping tracks you used to find on those old prog-rock albums. 'Why' is completely the opposite, a sweet radio-friendly single, no more and no less.

Like I said, I've been listening to 'Perceptions' for some time now and still cannot find the correct words to capture its sprawling canvas of sounds, songs and styles (although by now you've realised that it hasn't stopped me trying). It is a brave and succesful attempt by these Elephants to tramp through the SA music jungle where no one has been before and leave a trail. The ou on the cover is wearing shades because this Sun is very, very bright.

Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman 8/10

others in the REVIEWS

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Lots of SA CDs to buy online at One World.

There's also the Two Oceans Trading online shopping mall where you can purchase Springbok rugby merchandising, SA books, jewellery and CD-ROMs, amongst many other items.

Any thoughts, requests, problems, complaints, praise or interesting and relevant SA music news, please email it immediately to: sugar@cd.co.za

editor: Stephen "Sugar" Segerman, webmaster: Alan Levin, maintainer: Brian Currin

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