CD REVIEW: Tauk - Ride
By Alex Jasperse - 06/25/2007 - 10:09 PM EDT
Artist: Band: Tauk
Album: Ride 
Genre: Funk, Jazz-Funk and Pop/Rock
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7.5/10
Songwriting Skills: 7/10
Performance Skill: 8.5/10
When a piece of music is too simple, we tend not to like it. But when it’s too complex, we also tend to reject it because it’s not grounded in anything that’s ‘familiar.’ For most listeners to enjoy music, there has to be a balance between simple and complex. Which, in part, answers some of the questions as to why a lot of music and groups seem to sound rather familiar…
Tauk is a five-piece jazz-funk group from Long Island, New York, that’s devoted to crafting smooth and polished rhythmic centered grooves. Their combination of vintage funk sounds with a Stevie Wonder like playfulness, combined with the complete control and improvisational perfection of Herbie Hancock, make Ride a summer album that’s packed with plenty of dynamic instrumentation and flirtatious melodies.
Much of the album is driven by trade offs between Alessandro Zanelli’s elastic and jazzy vocals, Matt Jalbert’s fiery guitar lines and Alric Carter’s key work. Opening with a combination of wet guitar wahs and bass melodies, backed by Adam Akpinar’s solid percussion skills, “All Ears” invites the listener into the album with what feels like a classic stripped down Jamiroquai groove. The almost nonchalant nature of the track maintains a fluidity that slowly gains momentum, unfolding into two minutes of jazz piano bliss. Dancing effortlessly across the keys, Carter trades riffs here and there with the guitar and the bass before Jalbert tops everything off with an explosive fretboard ascension of distorted guitar lines.
Despite that fact that there are a number of overwhelmingly socially ‘conscious’ and clichéd song titles and lyrics (take titles like “Imperialistic Fools,” “Roll with the Punches” and “Culture Shock,” for example), Zanelli’s voice manages to cut through the mediocre political idioms by redeeming itself as a captivating and mesmerizing force. Although these words may only resonate with a younger audience still open and willing to adopt them as their own, the emphasis on vocal control, organ grooves and rhythmic guitar line that also lead much of the way, do a fair job at wiping away the familiar.
As a debut, Ride is pretty damn good. And it’s fair to draw comparisons to Dave Matthews, Hancock, Wonder and even Earth, Wind and Fire – because in many respects, they’re on the same level. However, the inevitable “but…” keeps working its way into this review because of the overriding familiarity in almost every department. The only familiar track that stands out from the rest of the familiar tracks is “Stop Living a Dream,” which is a combination of heartfelt crooning mixed with a Broadway musical spirit. The grandiose sonic swells and borderline epic nature of this track will no doubt render it an instant favourite, allowing it to effortlessly drift between lightly strummed acoustic guitars, piano fills and strong percussive breaks.
In the grand scheme of things, Tauk’s music is not simplistic, nor is it too complex. They are more complex and better skilled than the vast majority of acts that dominate much of the mainstream, which put their credibility in a relatively safe position. But that shouldn’t be used as an excuse to justify why they haven’t stepped outside of any boundaries. Their feel-good, anthemic ethos wouldn’t be compromised in any way by incorporating new ideas outside the genre. Whatever the reason may be, at its core, Ride is still an intoxicating fusion of grooves for the body and mind that are simply an invitation to a good time – even if someone else has grooved it before.
The Verdict: 7.6/10
For more information, please contact Tauk at firstname.lastname@example.org
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