Album Review: TAUK, ‘Sir Nebula’

Written by Andrew Howie


I first heard about TAUK in my early college years. They’ve made a fairly meteoric rise since then, touring all over the country, from smaller college venues to major festivals and everywhere in between. All this experience has helped them hone their finely-crafted jazz-metal fusion progress into a swirling, mystifying blend of electronic yet organic prog-jam, all performed without vocals.

Instrumental music can be hard to pull off, as so much of music today is centered around vocals. TAUK does it masterfully though, incorporating world percussion, ‘80s videogame synthesizers, shredding guitar work, and creating a vast expanse of sonic running room for improvisation in a live setting. Their latest album, Sir Nebula, shows the group continuing to tap into new ground musically, with complex rhythms and demanding melodies meshing together only to dissolve into the atmospheric mist.

Having released two previous studio albums as well as a live album, the members of TAUK clearly know a thing or two about themselves as musicians, and their comfort level is evident on Sir Nebula. They weave over, around, and underneath the different melodies and delve into layer after layer of surging futuristic fusion. I can’t wait to hear how this sounds live; if you’ve seen them before, you know how they can stretch out a jam, and they jam harder than most.

Sir Nebula is signature TAUK without sacrificing their innovation. All the highlights are there: delicate keys, bombastic drums, the construction of layers upon layers, and the sense of urgency. The music grows from peaceful and enchanting to furious and crashing over the course of each song. They really run wild creatively, and you can tell on this album in particular that they’re really having a blast.

I would recommend Sir Nebula for fans of Umphrey’s McGee, artistic hip hop, funk, jazz fusion, and even fans of instrumental progressive metal. It’s definitely outside the box of what you’re going to hear on the radio, and once you really dive in you won’t be able to stop listening. Of course, if you’ve never seen TAUK live, you simply must do that as well, and hopefully you’ll catch some of these new tracks out on the road (particularly “Program Select” and “Rainwalk”). Great tunes, super fun to listen to over and over and listen to a different melody each time. Go ahead and get lost in the music!

Rating: 8 out 10