House of Blues Cleveland became ground zero for a rocking Black Friday rave when TAUK and Papadosio brought their Imaginal Cells Tour into town November 28th.
Touring behind their recently-released Collisions album, TAUK got the party started shortly after 9:00pm and didn’t let up for nearly ninety minutes, mesmerizing early-arrivers with their unique blend of rock, fusion, funk, and jazz. But the Oyster Bay quartet also dusted off a few tracks from its independently-issued 2011 disc, Homunculus—and threw in a pair of choice covers that socked unsuspecting spectators right in the breadbasket.
Baseball-capped guitarist Matt Jalbert channeled fuzz tones, distorted power chords, and sizzling leads with his Eastman on “The Chemist,” “Mindshift,” and “Sweet Revenge.” To his right, bassist Charlie Dolan anchored the low end (but also supplied a bit of melody and thumb-slappin’ funk) with his five-string on “The Drop,” “On Guard,” and “Tumbler.”
At stage right, keyboardist Alric “A.C.” Carter presided over a bank of instruments—and sometimes played more than one simultaneously, his flighty phalanges dancing over the keys of his Nordwave, Hammond XK, and Yamaha Motif. Tweaking his notes with a pitch wheel, Carter conjured ethereal sounds not unlike those popularized by ‘70s and ‘80s synth wizards Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson, Herbie Hancock, and Harold Faltermeyer. There were string sounds, carnival organ, a little brass—even some Kyoto-like keys.
Sandwiched between his band mates was drummer Isaac Teel, his girder-like biceps bristling as he flayed and flammed. Teel pounded and pummeled on “Carpentino’s Rebirth,” “When In Doubt,” and “Friction,” making mincemeat out of his hi-hat and assorted hardware and locking in with Dolan while Jalbert and Carter steered the exotic melodies over the off-kilter (but meticulously orchestrated) meters. Teel was also given a few moments to demonstrate his sensitivity and tender touch on the skins.
What are TAUK’s songs about?
Anything you like, really: The band didn’t sing a note, preferring to let their music do the (yes) talking for them.
And just when you thought you had the guys’ oeuvre pinned down, out popped a gritty spin on The Beatles’ Abbey Road classic “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” or a TAUK reworking of Led Zeppelin III’s “Immigrant Song.”
If virtuosic instrumental jamming with modern flourishes are your thing, we can’t recommend these New Yorkers enough: Pick up Collisions and Homunculus on Amazon or iTunes at the earliest opportunity. This stuff isn’t just noodling; it’s cerebral, spiritual excavation via expert sound manipulation.
Headlining the post-Thanksgiving gala were Athens, Ohio natives Papadosio, who took revelers further down the same cosmic course as their openers—albeit with double the keyboards.
Now based out of Asheville, North Carolina, the genre-jumbling quintet let loose with a few selections from its latest effort, the ambitious double-disc To End The Illusion of Separation (TETSIOS for short). But they also hypnotized with a few hits from backlog albums like Observations and Night & Day (Live), the tunes seamlessly segueing into one another as purple, green, orange, and crimson LEDs flashed and sundry images flickered on a screen overlooking tandem keyboardists Sam and Billy Brouse.
Mike Healy dashed away on drums on an angled riser at stage right. On the opposite side of the stage, guitarist Anthony Thogmartin strummed funky chords and unleashed a few wicked, wild solos (when not triggering odd sounds and samples from a tabletop workstation). Between them, bassist Rob McConnell (another five-stringer) unwound serpentine grooves on “Monochrome,” “Paradigm Shift,” and “Dream Estate,” his fingertips snaking up and down the fret board.
One could argue that Sam and Billy Brouse are not unlike Van Gogh and Renoir when it comes to Papadosio’s spectrum-encompassing sonic color palette. Facing off on an elevated platform—each surrounded by too many Moogs and keyboards to count—the brothers Brouse often resembled mirror images of one another, tweaking their toys on “Stick Figure,” “Cue,” “Madre de Dios” and “Snorkle.”
The mix was too organic, beefy, and bodacious to be written off as mere electronica, yet too spacey and synchronized to be regarded as absent-minded garage rock. Unlike TAUK, Thogmartin and his Papadosio peers contributed some sparing vocals to their aural effluence, the words whirling like leaves in a breeze, undulating to Healy’s tribal beats, unified in rhythm with the dazzling, candy-colored spotlights and strobes.
Veterans of the festival circuit, the quintet didn’t let until around 1:00am Saturday morning, dismissing its blissfully dazed Cleveland contingent after a mind-bending two-hour foray in fluid, chops-heavy trance-rock.