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ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND

Neo-Prog • United States


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Elephants Of Scotland biography
Ironically enough, ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND are not from Scotland, nor are any of them pachyderms.

ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND was kindled in the 1980's cover band HOT NEON MAGIC. There, keyboard player Adam RABIN and drummer Ornan McLEAN bonded over their love and desire to play progressive rock. At the same time, Ornan was playing in a fusion / rock band with guitarist Corey CRANSTON. When their various projects dissolved, Adam suggested that the three of them should start working together. Their interests overlapped enough to get things going and after a few occasional writing sessions and jams, they knew that had something worth exploring.

They performed their first few shows as a trio with Adam RABIN covering the bass parts on the keys. These were the only shows that included Corey CRANSTON as he left shortly thereafter. Adam and Ornan quickly enlisted guitarist John WHYTE who they had played with in Hot Neon Magic. While Coray had a more improvisational style, John called on his experience of playing a one-man show featuring Rush covers (yeah, think about that for a moment), and added a less adventurous guitar feel. All three members were now dedicated to the tighter, more disciplined style that drew them all to the classics of the genre.

That same week, bassist Dan MacDONALD, posted an advertisement online looking for a band. While the three Elephants were not initially looking for a bassist, they were apparently intrigued enough by Dan's ad that they considered expanding to a quartet. Dan immediately bonded with the band both personally and musically and he quickly dedicated himself to the project freeing Rabin's left hand from its bass duties.

ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND spent the majority of 2012 working on the music, first learning it, then rewriting it to fit the new style of the band, writing new music and finally finding their groove as a live act. Elephants of Scotland recorded their first album, "Home Away from Home" in late 2013 and released it in January of 2013.

: : : Bio written by Adam Rabin, edited by Roland113 : : :

Elephants Of Scotland official website

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ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND discography


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ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.70 | 69 ratings
Home Away From Home
2013
3.62 | 41 ratings
Execute and Breathe
2014

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ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Home Away From Home by ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.70 | 69 ratings

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Home Away From Home
Elephants Of Scotland Neo-Prog

Review by Progulator
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Elephants of Scotland's latest album Home Away From Home lays down a lot of familiar elements combined in ways that are fairly conventional but still show skill in composition. The overall vein is thoroughly neo-prog at a fairly relaxed pace, featuring electronic influences such as on the opener "Geograph," tranquil piano playing on "Full Power," a great groove on the title track "Home Away From Home," and loads of atmosphere on the closer, "Errol McSquisitor." Unfortunately, there a few things that were detractors for me, such as the vocals; while they had the right sound there was just something that sounded a tad off about the performance, like intonation that missed the mark often enough to where it felt like something didn't mesh. Apart from that, there seemed to be an overall lack of energy in the recordings, sort of a stagnant feel throughout. In the end, die hard fans of neo-prog may be satisfied but Home Away From Home may have difficulty reaching a broad range of prog audiences.

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 Home Away From Home by ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.70 | 69 ratings

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Home Away From Home
Elephants Of Scotland Neo-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Three old friends, who played together in an 80's cover band, keyboardist Adam Rabin, drummer Ornan McLean and guitarist John "Lefty" Whyte, decided to fill their need for original Progressive Rock, forming Elephants of Scotland in 2010 in Burlington, Vermont.While writing down new material they met with bassist Dan MacDonald and completed the original line-up.Two years of writing and rehearsing resulted finally to a debut album in early 2013, entitled ''Home away from home''.

Would a paradox band name lead to some paradox music?Answer is yes and no, because Elephants of Scotland play what I would call futuristic Neo Prog, structuring their pieces along the seeds of the 80's British groups, but taking their sound a bit further, adding lots of sound effects and distortions.They remind of acts such as GREY LADY DOWN or GALLEON, introducing an edgier sound, powerful arrangements and less symphonic inspiration, as the album is particularly based on melodies, dynamic rhythms and mascular instrumental passages.There is no question the Americans are fond of classic acts as well.The presence of some mighty organ moves and the combination of melodious with more adventurous textures leave no doubt about that.Musically the band is very solid with dense and interesting pieces, often showered with rockier, TILES-like parts and some more laid-back atmospheric runs, but the majority of the album lies within the principles of modern Neo Prog.A good comparison would be DARWIN'S RADIO.The last track ''Errol McSquisitor'' is the absolute peak of the release, featuring a sensitive first part with atmospheric keyboards, smooth guitars and emotional vocals and a grandiose second one, built on what appears to be the lone symphonic/orchestral segment of the album: Impressive guitar distortions, romantic keyboards and a hypnotic, steady groove by the rhythm section.

Neo Prog from the future.Powerful, rich, rocking and intricate.Great and warmly recommended first step for these bizarre elephants.

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 Execute and Breathe by ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND album cover Studio Album, 2014
3.62 | 41 ratings

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Execute and Breathe
Elephants Of Scotland Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars The pachyderms from Vermont via the Highlands are back! Their debut, for those of you who missed out on it, was a splendid and well-rewarded work that had everything to stroke the progressive heart, including a sublime package in terms of cover and artwork but most importantly, a set list of shockingly brilliant prog , full of ballsy progressions, swift and nimble playing, infusing the whole with exhilaration. Some noticed Rush influences (yes the glorious bass IS upfront!), others Marillion and other slicker neo-prog bands but truth is this quartet kicks royal behind, while formulating a distinctive touch, evident in each musician's display, totally devoted to team play and freedom to imprint a personal gesture of genius within the grooves. The boys from Burlington (a lovely little town) have set the bar high, so what do we have here? A brighter sound, perhaps a tad heavier as guitarist John Whyte likes to raunch and roll, very much in the Lifeson mode, while the low-end steamrollers with the best of them, bassist Dan MacDonald fingering with resolute mania. Drums are expertly propulsive and explosive as leader Adam Rabin lays down the ivory tapestry needed to keep it all within symphonicity, piano synths and organ all obediently weaving their magic. Vocals are shared among three (only the drummer abstains), each with their own particular take on the microphone.

From the initial jungle blare of "A Different Machine" blasts out from the gates, showing off impressive gusto and the harder edged sound promise that defines their 'progression'. The playing is fast and hard, the sound crisp and pristine. To "the Other Room", a shorter piece that has all kinds of cacophonous caresses, guitar wobbles and rebound techniques that hint at obscurity and dissonance. The metamorphosis into a more conventional tune hits you like a flung rock, Adam grabbing the mike with authority, the bass and drums chugging fiercely, with Whyte doing an axe two-step, using some Andy Summers shifting rhythms to great effect.

But the thrilling piano-led "Amber Waves" really shows off the incredible prog tradition of creating an epic, multi-dimensional piece with different yet eventually merging melodies, counterpointed instrumental snippets and a hard rock finale that screams and creams. This is a bruising and extravagant affair that comes as close to a sonic roller coaster, extremely dynamic in structure. A merciless jewel, I tell you! Adam does a highly credible job on vocals, playful and soaring like many 80s singers (Naked Eyes' Peter Byrne, among others), as well as unleashing some nifty synth leads throughout the track.

"TFAY" scours out terrain that could be described as 'hard space' with some Hendrixian flair, manic rhythmic pulse and a rather greasy disposition. This is prog-rock at its most energetic, little Geddy in the hysteria-laden lead vocal but the music is like a speeding bullet, Whyte and MacDonald pulling hard on their strings. The Elephants seem to enjoy grazing in the confines of deep space, pulling their considerable weight in providing bold new directions and exemplary instrumental creativity. This sounds like old school Rush orbiting Saturn, for a spell, 'phasers on stun' guitars and warp-speed propulsion. Ornan MacLean really excels on his kit, crisp, tight and massive. This is especially obvious on the bubbly and unsquared "Boxless", a universe of beats that clobber and pound ever forward, the four string wonder following with humility. Nothing overtly complex, just deliriously played and expertly handled.

"Endless" is the centerpiece, an extensive 2 part extravaganza that offers up some scintillating horizons for musicianship and inspiration. The spotlight now moves to the players, a platform to show off some considerable chops, Whyte stepping up to the plate magnificently, carving some criss-cross lines that hypnotize and stun. Spluttering synths stop and start sections that defy gravity, a display of on-a-dime execution and blitzkrieg speed. Part 1 is all instrumental and it sizzles! The second chapter is longer, denser and more progressive than anything heard up to now. There is a slight "Suite Madam Blue" feel, like the Styx classic, as the acoustic introduction preps an obvious swelling of emotions, namely a glorious theme that seeps deep into the soul, delicacy in its most ethereal blessing. Softer tones provide a sonic richness, the pace ratcheted up only with utter flair, such as the buzzing Rabin synth solo, a frizzly affair that twirls, swirls and whirls. Very unflappable (Elephant ears) indeed! Adam then does a little piano etude that just brings out the deepest emotion.

"Mouse trap" sets this one down for the night. Aggressive, loud and bombastic, this will kick you hard and nasty, Whyte doing his Lee on the mike, MacDonald doing his Lee on bass, Rabin bending notes on his Roland synths while MacLean bashes with the almighty! Square and devastating, these mastodons show no fear in their defiant attitude and soldier on bravely. Needless to say, Rush fans will adore the superb progginess displayed here once gain.

Their mammoth sound has evolved to a higher level, crisper and crunchier, as if peanut butter is what elephants really like best! There is also a sheen, a velvet veil of excellence that is hard to describe, a sense of bold confidence that is unmistakable. I still have a very soft spot for the debut which was one of many 2013 revelations that blew my speakers sideways but I am sure this will continue to refine my appreciation, with many more revisits. This is a band to watch further, should not be too hard, the Scots are quite a stubborn lot and elephants can be seen for miles and miles. Nice modern artwork, almost as engaging as the flying boat debut.

4.5 Implements and Puffs (woo, that sounds censurable!)

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 Home Away From Home by ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.70 | 69 ratings

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Home Away From Home
Elephants Of Scotland Neo-Prog

Review by Second Life Syndrome
Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars This album has been steeping in my mind for the better part of a year now. I was in the mood for some great neo-prog, and I was certainly not disappointed when I purchased this debut album from Vermont's Elephants of Scotland. I was, to my shame, attracted by the interesting name and the great, spacey artwork (which, by the way, was voted best artwork of the year by the community on my Facebook page The PROG Mind). In other words, this album has a certain attraction to it from the start.

When I popped it into my player, I was floored by the musical proficiency I experienced. The band has a wonderfully soulful style full of awesome bass lines, catchy guitars, and rip-roaring drum work. They have a classic rock vibe buried in their style that keeps the music moving along without much pause for noodling or the like. When I come to neo-prog, though, I mainly come for the excellent keyboard work, and Elephants of Scotland do not disappoint in this area. They manage to fuse spacey atmospherics with organ leads and solos to great effect. The synthy goodness found in this album, then, had me smiling with glee, as I'm a sucker for synth.

The band has an interesting method of sharing the vocal leads, as three different members offer their performance here. The vocals, then, are always fresh, if somewhat inconsistent in quality. There isn't a "bad" voice in the bunch, however.

In addition to that, there isn't a "bad" song on the album either. I am a big fan of "Geograph" and the ending "epic" "Errol McSquisitor" with its folksy vibe. In fact, that was my favorite track for a long time, but now I'm rather taken with "Full Power" with its incredibly diverse and catchy keys. That is one thing I really noticed about this album: diversity. None of the songs sound the same, even though they may share components. I'm very impressed with this, as it takes strong composition skill to do this.

In the end, Elephants of Scotland are a band worth hearing. They combine classic sounds with new ideas to great effect, and I'm immensely impressed. They have a new album arriving in Spring 2014, so be sure to check it in addition to this album, too.

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 Home Away From Home by ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.70 | 69 ratings

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Home Away From Home
Elephants Of Scotland Neo-Prog

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars In one word: excellent

Elephants of Scotland is from USA and have their first offer issued this year 2013 named Home away from home. Well despite the strange but funny band name the music is top notch, is adventurous, fresh with plenty of memorable passages. Excellent melodic lines but with complicated instrumental moves and above all some very fine , smooth and warm vocal arrangements, really fine album as a whole. From the first piece Gographer to the last Errol McSquisitor , Elephants of Scotland mean bussines. The music is to my ears something between Presto Ballet, Every Waking Hour, Kansas and the title track who is very close of Rush (Signals era), very nice instrumental parts with guitar and keyboards having an important role here. To me this band and particulary this album has many moments of pure joy while listning and for that is recommended for sure. Easy 4 stars, one of the most exciting albums of the year 2013. Very good.

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 Home Away From Home by ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.70 | 69 ratings

BUY
Home Away From Home
Elephants Of Scotland Neo-Prog

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Crossover Team

4 stars First of all, I cannot help but make a comment on this Vermont based band's moniker, Elephants of Scotland is a catchy, proggy, hilarious and memorable name for a quartet where 2 members are named McLean and MacDonald, who happen to be the rhythm section! Leader and keyboardist Adam Rabin shows off some appropriate Jewish humor by branding their musical union so humorously!

This is a stunning debut from this previously unknown band, composed of musicians who handle their instruments with confidence and ease. Adam does most vocals and displays a barrage of synthesizers to slippery effect, involving lovely piano segments and Manfred Mann-ish bending solos. Guitarist John Whyte has a slashing Lifeson/Summers style that exhilarates, sizzles and soars while drummer Ornan McLean thumps convincingly, using toms, cymbals and his double bass drums to perfection. Solid, solid, solid! Bassist MacDonald nimbly adds his rumble to the mix, giving a sturdy platform for the others to boom along! Every song is a delight, my only slight disappointment is with the overtly Rush- influenced "Starboard" where Whyte's singing has the same uneven tremble that characterized Geddy Lee's mid-period nasal twang. I mean, I understand that Whyte operated a Rush cover band for awhile but this piece, while having genial moments (the drumming and synths), just does not do justice to the previous and ensuing compositions.

On the other hand, the remaining material is plain mesmerizing! "Geograph" with its genial beat, "Full Power" with its sensational shuffle and stunning soloing , the tantalizingly majestic "The Seed" with its utterly gorgeous melody and sumptuous delivery, the sizzling title track with its "Power Windows" feel, a genial vocoder detail and screaming axe shred. And last but not least, the crown jewel arrangement on the sublime and surreal "Errol McSquisitor", all conspire to startle the unprepared listener into being vaulted into sheer bliss. I was expecting something tasty but this was a very enjoyable ride, indeed.

Fans of Rush, The Police and Saga, sympho/Neo prog fans will lap this up with glee! A great debut! Go get this , you will not be disappointed

4.5 Gaelic pachyderms

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 Home Away From Home by ELEPHANTS OF SCOTLAND album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.70 | 69 ratings

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Home Away From Home
Elephants Of Scotland Neo-Prog

Review by Roland113
Collaborator Neo-Prog Team

4 stars Home Away From Home is the first album by New England based Elephants of Scotland. Once I got over the lack of elephant trumpets or bagpipes, I was treated to a fantastic concept album detailing, to the best of my understanding, the destruction of the Earth and the concurrent escape of an ark of humanity, admittedly, not the happiest of topics.

"Geograph" slaps us from the get go with an energetic keyboard metronome giving the rhythm section of bassist Dan MacDonald and drummer Ornan McLean the first spotlight as they set the groove for the song. The first thing I noticed is how great the toms sound on the drum lead in, and, throughout the rest of the album. Kudos to the band as they have a beautiful mix. After a few moments of chunky groove, chaos crashes in by way of the guitars and organs before we get back to the groove. Next up, we get to hear Keyboard player and main vocalist Adam Rabin voice for the first time. Rabin's voice reminds me of Peter Murphy, fairly unique in prog circles. Geograph goes on from there, maintaining the initial energy throughout. John Whyte shines on his first solo of the album, his tone vaguely reminiscent of Chad Taylor of Live. One other note, major points for having a song about geology (why yes, I'm glad you asked, I am a geologist).

Adam Rabin has another chance to shine again on "Full Power" as his piano leads the way in the beginning of the song to transition to a more atmospheric and lush second half of the song. The interplay between bass, guitar and keys leading into the lush part is wonderful and Rabin's keyboard solo is hauntingly beautiful.

Guitarist John Whyte performed in a 'one-man act that did a lot of Rush songs' prior to playing with the Elephants. "Starboard" was obviously influenced by Rush and Mr. Whyte's work as the song could easily fit on any late seventies Rush album. Whyte also sang the lead on this song, and frankly, he even sounds like Geddy Lee. The interplay of textures between Rabin and Whyte's voices at the end shows a wonderful contrast of styles.

"Home Away From Home" is an interesting song, starting with some very informative vocals, over an almost Police like groove. While the lyrics are crucial to the story line they sometimes stumble over themselves as the words all try to come out on time. The good news is that things really pick up at about the minute-fifteen mark with a nice, driving bass line by MacDonald. Rabin sits back and adds to the atmosphere while Whyte adds a disco-esque rhythm as MacDonald and McLean groove for the next few minutes before Whyte takes over with another wonderfully penned solo. From there the intensity grows until the song climaxes with a chorus over the groove. Great song!

"Errol McSquisitor" is another nice, down-tempo, atmospheric song, most likely the best of the bunch (Full Power, The Seed being the other two). It does show a nice progression in intensity from beginning to end.

All in all, this is a solid first effort, it sounds fantastic, especially for a self-produced album. I'd love to give this a five star rating, but the trio of 'down-tempo, atmospherics' take up a little too much of the album for my tastes. Their sound is unique and an interesting combination of styles. Guitarist John Whyte shows his nineties roots mostly by his tone, while Bassist Dan MacDonald pulls off a fantastic groove reminiscent of a heavier Les Claypool meets Bootsy Collins hybrid. Ornan McLean does a lot of intricate cymbal work throughout the release and finally, Adam Rabin melds it all together adding exactly what is missing at just the moment you realize it's missing. Couple this with the differing voices and you've got a winner. If you like the complexity of classic, symphonic prog with the modern tone associated with the Neo-Prog genre, then give these guys a whirl. A solid four star effort.

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Thanks to Roland113 for the artist addition.

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