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Music of the Spirit: Elephant Stone’s The Three Poisons

Elephant Stone
The Three Poisons
Hidden Pony

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How can music exist that connects the finite and the infinite so deep in your body that your heart beats with the certitude of eternity?

Listen to Rishi Dhir’s bassline on “Knock You From Yr Mountain,” and you’ll know.


How can music exist that illuminates love for a lover, for a band, for an audience, and for a god in a single song?

Listen to Dhir’s soaring melody and immaculate lyrics, along with Gabriel Lambert’s towering guitar, on “Worlds Don’t Begin and End with You,” and you’ll know.

How can music be cosmological?

Listen to all 11 tracks on Elephant Stone’s third LP and magnum opus, The Three Poisons, in one sitting (as I’ve been doing for a couple months now), and you’ll know.

The Three Poisons takes you “through this life,” as Dhir sings on “Wayward Son.”

Indeed, Dhir (vocals, bass, and sitar), Lambert (guitar), and drummer Miles Dupire have made an album of such unflinching beauty – of such depth and resonance – that it’s not only the best album of 2014 but, more importantly, a record that will accompany you on your life’s journey. It’s the record to have on hand when you remember that the moments of your life amount to something more than just your ego.

Elephant Stone absolutely excel at creating musical moments that parallel the moments in our lives when – whether we’re happy or sad – we’re most alive.

It’s in the way Dhir plays the evocative sitar interlude that is “Intermediate State” – somewhere near the middle of The Three Poisons – and how his sitar merges into Lambert’s heavy guitar at the beginning of the next track, “Child of Nature (Om Navah Shivaya).” So that when Dhir tells the child of nature “to look inside” to find “loving, kindness, and compassion in life,” the picture is complete. The child has passed through the intermediate state of bardo (in Buddhism) and has now been reborn.

By the time the album reaches its ninth track, “The Three Poisons,” the child experiences the inevitability of “fear taking control.” The three poisons – again concepts that Dhir takes from Buddhism – are ignorance, attachment, and aversion. And these poisons condemn the child to samsara and the fixation of personal ego and clinging to the temporal reality of this world.


This is heady stuff. But, again, Elephant Stone make this stuff into a constellation of musical moments that entrance and beguile you into a meditative state. Dupire’s repetitive beats (which intentionally evoke The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows”) combine with Dhir’s equally repetitive pulsing bassline and Lambert’s unimaginable-before-now guitar part to meditate on how the three poisons control your life – how your ego holds you back. Repetition, the track suggests, is key to meditation – and meditation is key to ego abandonment.

But the amazing thing about “The Three Poisons” – and about the album as a whole – is that none of it is didactic. In fact, “didactic” is the last word you would associate with Elephant Stone.

Elephant Stone make music of the spirit – music of peace. Just listen to “Motherless Child (Love’s Not for War”) and the rush of love that comes during the tempo change when the guys just jam.

Like the best of Coltrane, Mahler, The Beatles, and Brian Wilson, Elephant Stone make music of elevation – music that values your subjective experiences and impressions, just as much as it positions them within timeless human experience.