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Album Review: On The Whole Universe In All Directions By Elkhorn

Centripetal Force (North America) and Cardinal Fuzz (UK/Europe) have announced the upcoming release of Elkhorn’s On The Whole Universe In All Directions, which introduces the vibraphone to the Elkhorn sound. Pre-orders for the album begin on March 24, and the release is scheduled for April 7.

About On The Whole Universe In All Directions 

Track list:

1. North (8:54)

2. South (10:40)

3. East (7:44)

4. West (12:25)

According to their Bandcamp page, Elkhorn is a …

“Guitar duo featuring Jesse Sheppard on twelve-string acoustic and Drew Gardner on electric, interweaving the extended folk tradition with psychedelic improvisation, moving freely from pre-rock to post-rock and beyond.”

The vibraphone adds an immensely jazzy overtone, particularly on the first track called “North.” I’m not a jazz fan; the chaotic approach to the genre is too much for me to bear, though I can appreciate the talent it takes to make the chaos work. With “North,” there is very little chaos involved, but a slight psychedelic tone flows alongside the folk feel of the acoustic guitars and the jazz vibe I mentioned.

“South” begins with an acoustic guitar that may recall Alice in Chains; think of the Sap or Jar of Flies albums for that, and there is still a jazz vibe within the vibraphone and percussion, as well as a psych undertone. This time around, I was a little bored by the 3-minute mark, and 5 minutes in, there still hadn’t been enough change for my tastes, but Elkhorn created an ambient atmosphere that others would genuinely enjoy. 

“East” is the shortest of the four songs, and from a purely musical perspective, these guys are excellent at creating a minimalist sound and overall atmosphere. Their use of vibraphone, acoustic guitars, and sparse percussion creates music that would be great for meditation, self-reflection, and releasing the tension of a hectic day.

(Note: The album will be released on April 7, 2023, but we got an advanced copy. Here’s a preview of the first track below):

“West” is the longest of the four and offers music much like the songs before it. Elkhorn utilizes a jazzy folk-psych approach that, while it isn’t my favorite thing, is crafted with expertise, knowing exactly what they are looking for and getting it.

Final Thoughts 

I can’t say that I’d listen to this album much, or at all, really, but fans of Elkhorn’s music will enjoy the evolution that they have taken. My only complaint is based on personal preferences, which come from their highly mellow sounds. I like a little more oomph and less jazz in my music, but do not mistake my thoughts as an impression of the band, as I was pretty impressed by their sound and the things they used to achieve it. 

So, if you like ambient atmospheres similar to what I’ve described, you will thoroughly enjoy Elkhorn’s On The Whole Universe In All Directions.

Support Elkhorn by checking out their Bandcamp or website or finding them on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

This review was written by Tom Hanno, who has been writing reviews for the last 7 years but has been sharing his love of music for the majority of his life. Originally starting out at the now defunct Chimera Magazine, he is currently contributing to Doomed and Stoned, The Sleeping Shaman, The Doom Charts, Tom’s Reviews, and The Third Eye. Read more of Tom’s reviews by checking out his Linktree.

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