Album Review: Taraban - How The East Was Lost
Reviewed by Robbie Maguire
The term or label 'Psychedelic Rock' can encompass all manner of styles that bubble away creatively within its loose boundaries. These very boundaries are often crossed and you may find a band termed 'Psychedelic' actually have a collection of elements and features to their sound. Elements that ordinarily wouldn't work in many other genres or if tried would not sound cohesive or natural. Polish three piece 'Taraban' sit somewhere comfortably in the middle not venturing too close to the boundaries and in effect play a very 'safe' yet highly entertaining brand of 'Psychedelic' rock.
As the bizarre uneasy slow intro to 'Last Laugh' begins, the edgy theme of 'How the East was Lost' unwinds. The stillness subsides giving way to a monstrous 70's blues soaked hard rock riff and already you can hear that Taraban are avid disciples of a vintage sound and style. The warmth of the reverb soaked vocals radiates through and the song like very much of the album has a relaxed feel about it, a relaxed groove that makes the listening very easy. An elegant strum on a sole poignant guitar returns and the soft, lucid tunes allow the character and depth of the music to shine through.
It is clear that frontman Daniel Suder is the main aural point with a sense of coolness and relaxed charm but a distinct air of vulnerability and fragility. Hearing these features are a positive rather than trying to suppress them. At times on the album its as if Daniel is dueling with guitarist Maciej Trojanowski as to who can individually be the highlight of the album. Neither wins, it is the collective togetherness of the three piece that triumphs, despite the soaring luscious lead work of Maciej, who has a relaxed nature to his playing. This relaxed nature is a theme that is constant throughout the album.
The glam velvety fuzz of 'The Plague' is drenched in 70's nostalgia and has a bubbling bluesy energy running through it. As with all the songs it is the undercurrent, the vibe and the feelings conveyed which increases the intensity and alluring nature of the album. At their rockiest as in 'Wizards Tale' Taraban hold their own and deliver straight up hard riffs and the driving rock certainly gets the foot tapping and the head nodding. Unfortunately, no sooner do the stoner rock vibes take hold of you, they are gone. The direction of the song moves elsewhere, often slowing down into dreamy soundscapes. You find yourself longing for the a little more of the tight, pulsating rhythm and a little less of the bluesy, slower atmospheric passages. For 'How the East was Won' does seem to be a predominantly more slower gentle album which works well and is executed with great character and feeling. However, the harder, rockier sections are where Taraban excel. Take for example the excellent 'White lies' with its grungy mid section and catchy repetitive riff. Make no mistake, this is a heavy album but lets be clear its not heavy n the conventional sonic sense of the word. Here Taraban demonstrate how heavy can be conveyed in tones, feeling and atmosphere and have created an album of character. Something at the foremost within Psychedelic Rock.
According to the band 'How the East was Won' contains "a journey, a turbulent venture into the realm of each others expectations and needs". Even with the briefest and fairly broadest of descriptions you can pick up the joyless feel that Taraban are creating but also on the contrary the album evokes feelings of hope, excitement and the need to explore both physically and emotionally. There is a warmly addictive retro feel soaking the album and Taraban clearly wear their creative psychedelic and grungy influences proudly. So if blues inspired, grungy hard rock isn't your thing then fine but don't dismiss it. There is too much creative quality here to at least not give it a go. If a heavy album is what you are after, albeit a heavy album different to your usual sonically 'heavy' music, then 'How the East was Won' could be worth investing your time in.
Taraban release 'How The East Was Lost' on November 22nd.