T.A.O. — Abnormal Observations
(Unicorn Digital UNCR-5034, 2006, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2007-03-01
Ostensibly once a metal band, the number of unusual sonic embellishments and trickier-than-usual rhythms make T.A.O.’s music a lot more interesting than what that label might typically signify. Take for example, the liberal use of acoustic piano and vibraphone that permeates many of these songs, along with synths employed on every level and the brilliant rhythms forged by bass, drums, and the chugga-chugga guitars, plus plenty of moments where winding the power level down results in some tasty jazz, deep mood, and classical bits. Unfortunately, their weak card is the singing of guitarist Adam Jurewicz; as impressive as the seven-minute opener “Shruti” is, the horribly uneven vocal section near the end turns it from promising to self-destructing. Even on the remaining tracks, his singing never rises much above tolerable – this band definitely could use a dedicated lead singer. Jurewicz’ guitar playing is far more impressive, driving some urgent staccato rhythms and whipping out some smoking solos. Ever hear a couple Polish guys rapping in English over a sort of Steely Dan-like backing track? That’s what I thought – and some of what the listener is treated to on “Rhythm of Silence.” The rap part does sound pretty goofy, although the music on this cut is completely outside the metal realm, and perhaps some of the most impressive on the disk. In fact from that point forward, the disc becomes a much more varied entity, and all the stronger for it. Overall, excepting the vocals, this is a very impressive debut.
Related artist(s): T.A.O.
Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more
10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more
Bill Bruford Ventures into Uncharted Territory – Drum master Bill Bruford, veteran of some of the most creative bands in history (King Crimson, Yes, Genese, etc.), is sharing some of what he's learned about being a drummer and a musician in his new book, Uncharted: Creativity and the Expert Drummer, out on University of Michigan Press. » Read more