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T.A.P - Paradigms CD (album) cover



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5 stars I'll be the first reviewer to write one on their page. I'm not great at reviewing, so apologies in advance. I've listened to this on Spotify, so here we go.. (Love the album cover by the way, very dark, and love that Orange and Black contrast)

1) Infinite Names (11:57) It starts out with what seems to be some reversed electric guitar, then some industrial sound effects. The effects continue, but there is now a straightforward guitar solo, it provides an atmospheric and dark introduction to this album. around the 3:20 mark, some heavier drums comes in as the solo continues. The solo fades out at 3:45, leading to some synth sounds and atmospheric choir sounds. Swirling synths continue as the choir fades in and out, it seems to be building. At the 5:30 mark, the guitar continues, but this time with a swagger to it! A slightly grittier tone comes on, it's as if Gilmour was in a grunge band. The choir is gone now, the swirling synths grow louder, as does the guitar and drums. At the 7:15 mark, the solo comes to an abrupt stop, as synths take over and the choir comes back, this time more haunting than the last. At 8:10 we hear 'random percussion' (as preformed by Suzi James) This seems to be an instrumental track, at there are no vocals as of the 9:30 mark. It's not just the intro to the album, it's an epic intro to what is (hopefully) a long lasting career! Reminds me a bit of something I'd do with all the atmospheric stuff. (In my forum signature if any of y'all are interested, but this is about the great band T.A.P., not me :)) Overall, a great track! Highly recommend to any instrumental prog fans in love with the atmospheric side of prog.

2) The Progbient (5:02) I assume this is a combination of the words 'Prog' and 'Ambient' of which I approve! We here violin (I think that's what that is) with a tone similar to what you'd find in The Beatles 'Revolution 9' (that's a compliment). Going into this track, I didn't know what to expect, and am writing this review while I listen to the record, so I'm not sure if there are any vocals (I just checked, this is an instrumental album, cool!) This works well as an instrumental album, although I'd be interesting to hear such talented musicians tackle some vocals! (There are wordless vocals, lots of 'ahhhhhhhhhhh') not sure how to describe the guitar tone, groovy? It sounds a lot like the first track, different atmosphere, and the guitar is lighter, so definitely a different track, until around 4:30 when there is a sudden change in tempo and mood, synths are taking over! A mourning violin starts as the track comes to a sudden stop. I am LOVING this so far!

3) Initiate Protocol 7 (5:55) Some flute opens us up (I think that's flute, hard to say) and an effect heavy guitar brings us right in. Piano completes the mood, I could fall asleep to this, it's oddly beautiful! I love the mix play the guitar and flute, it sounds like I'm on a boat (only with headphones) drifting downstream, drums and a reverb laden guitar continue us on our journey. A soaring solo and synth section will inevitably envelope the listener in it's wonderful soundscape. The song fades out to the flute and guitar still going back and forth.

4) Signal Transactions (6:22) A violin and a guitar full of volume swells and tapping provide a suitable introduction. Some wave sounds lie in the background as the track shifts in a more eclectic section, with harder hit drums and a grittier guitar tone. Ke ys come in and out. a bit bluesy, and a touch of psychedelia. a quickly arpegiating guitar moves us along quickly, and seems to speed the track up. Some more violin (reminiscent of King Crimson's 'Providence) guide us to the end, short and sweet!

5) Silence from the Storm (12:27) The longest song on this album by a mere 30s seems to begin right where the last track ended, with violin opening us up. It begins to build somewhere around 1:15, and build it does. I'm not sure where this is going, but it continues to build, and build! The guitar is leading us down a path to who knows where, but it's somewhere you'd rather not be. Heavily effected drums come in around 5:00, and the track is still building! Another solo section carries us over 7:30, it seems to have quieted down, but there's a ferocious intensity in the atmosphere, the album cover pairs perfectly with this track! How amazing this track would be with some darker vocals to match! However, in music such as this, I tend to not prefer vocals, although it might be fitting here (what you could do would be release the album as a double album, one disc with vocals, one without) The track unfortunately seems to have climaxed at the 5 minute mark, but when listening in whole, it is rewarding, the track climaxes early and then slowly lets itself down, still a great track

6) The Last Words of Don Schultz (5:02) A trippy opening and heavily delayed guitar (I think?) kick around a bit with some reversed drums (very interesting) this is probably the most experimental track of the lot, though none of these are. I do like the production though, modern but still has a bit of warmth to it. Very Jazzy and you can hear the worldly influence on the instrumentation, a bit African with the drums. The shortest track on the album, but still good.

7) Terminus (5:40) Opening with some tubular bells and guitar harmonics, which lead right into a bend-heavy solo and a quiet and slowly strummed guitar which leads into a chaotic drum part. Another building track, (if Oldfield liked Black Sabbath) . The atmospheric-ness of this track is less prominent that on the other tracks, but provides a suitable album finale!

In conclusion to the longest review I've ever written, My only regret in this album is that I didn't make it! Incredibly talented individuals, carry on proggin!

Report this review (#2967762)
Posted Wednesday, November 8, 2023 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's been a while listening to something that is far out and takes your imagination away.

Too long!

And I was not surprised that this was a great album, that stands out for its well done material and how it is presented, although one could say that the various sound effects at the beginning and ending of some pieces are a bit ... on the what is this about, but in the end, it shows something that their "father" (Djam Karet) had in their very earlier days, before they found the idea of "song" ... and it was a thing for moody material, that felt like it was made for a movie, although here, in this album, it was not as much about this "visual" material as it was towards the evolution of the specific rock music.

Gayle Ellett, once told me, when I joked about too many bands that played just notes and scales, and he said that he wasn't sure where they would stop and might go through the whole alphabet and end in Z. Well, guess what ... this is what you get here, and then some.

I think a lot of folks are going to say that the high end guitar excursions are very much like the earlier days King Crimson, but in my book, Mr. Fripp also gave those up for a lot of odd note combinations and sounds, that sometimes makes someone go ... what was that? This is not his "ambient" or the stuff that we often think as just "noise", from an electric guitar. You don't get that here, and the material continues flowing, and flying along. You could say that those two ideas are much better perfected here, although the high end solos seem to be a throwback to the rock sound that is preferred these days ... however, this is not like saying it is the same ... this is probably better thought out than just invented and created. It has a feeling that it was just an exploratory moment all along ... and this is one of the best possible feelings in a lot of music that is considered "progressive".

Starting with "Infinite Names", you immediately know that some folks in Hollywood are not listening ... some of this stuff belongs in movies ... and not just the "titles" and "credits" either ... stuff that can (and should) be used like Mogwai's material was used in the film "KIN", which was magnificent, and when you hear the album, several things stand out ... you can "see" things, and this introductory piece is one of those pieces, although after the start it seems to be a super nice non-stop piece, that really takes you away. Not sure we can ask for more than that in so much "progressive" music ... but the moments for the visual stuff that are not exactly a rock piece, are one thing that is incredible and very beautiful. Again, it is amazing that this is not found in more film ... it is absolutely great, and there are times when I like to say, I don't want a "song" material with it ... I want more of this stuff taking you (and me!) away. That's how neat it is! The fact that it does not stay stuck on one specific guitar sound for its moments, details how much care is thought about how to use it and add a different mood and perspective to the whole thing. In general, this is probably some of the most "progressive" and far out stuff that you can hear within this facet of music, although I dislike thinking that this is just "progressive", since, in the end, it is what it should be called ... FANTASTIC AND GREAT MUSIC!

If that first one was not enough, the following piece is a really nice ambient like piece that is augmented by the guitar and even visuals as there is some material to go with it (not in the CD I don't think!) that is really nice. And above it all, the guitar "solo" is almost completely away from the piece of music, and yet, it fits beautifully and the band stands with it, giving a life that is not something that we always will witness in a video of some kind. It's haunting and unusual moments, make this whole thing really strong, and very enjoyable ... but not for the top ten minded folks! Progbient, is the title, and it is a beauty!

Of all the pieces, probably the one that you will play the most, as I did ... about 5 times in a row!!!!) is "Silence from the Storm". And my goodness, this makes me feel like saying ... this is the best album by Djam Karet, ever, but that would not be fair to this piece, and how it was done ... it is very much T. A. P. and though it is easy to say that it is a fabulous reminder of the previous incarnation of a lot of this music, in the end, I hope it signals some of the future ahead for many of us ... incredible music that is lively and exciting, and not just a "song" for the folks that don't know or understand "progressive" music.

This piece flows so well and seems to be better than the later version (the HOI version) in that it is extended some and played to the max, and staying and following this piece all the way to the end, is nothing short of a masterpiece ... words really fail at this moment ... with glorious background keyboards, and really nice transitions to the other parts in the piece, it is a really well designed idea and well executed, to the point of ... all you can say is ... it can't get any better! It's impossible! Sure would love to see this live, that's for sure, although I am not sure that it could have the depth that this recording shows.

All in all, this albums is one of the most satisfying listens for any "progressive" listener, as long as said person is not expecting a metal medley or an abuse of instrument ability ... this bunch here, does not have to show off their abilities ... the music does all that, and it is a joy for your ears, provided that you are one of those folks that ... got to have that "progressive" fix ... and this is more than that ... way more than that ... a very special album, that makes it very difficult to say a whole lot about it ... except that is goodness, never wanes, and the whole thing just made my day shine ...

Probably one of the best things I have heard in the past several years. And it comes, AGAIN, from the collective that is a part of the Djam Karet family, without a doubt one of my very special listens after 30 years!

Report this review (#2968089)
Posted Thursday, November 9, 2023 | Review Permalink
2 stars Since T.A.P advertisted on PA for reviews, I'll oblige. I'm not familiar with any of these musicians, or their side projects, but there is no doubt that they are good. The music on "Paradigms" is instrumental psychedelic space jams. If that sounds good to you then you'll probably enjoy this album. Most songs just float about freely with no surprises, no build up, no climax, just repetition and noodling, as on the one chord tune, "Initiate Protocol 7". Unfortunately there is nothing to keep me engaged and I lose interest. The rest of the songs on the album are similar, yet they have more than one chord.

So, not for me, but from the reviews and praise for this album it appears I'm in the minority.

Report this review (#2968217)
Posted Saturday, November 11, 2023 | Review Permalink
3 stars I remember my dad had one of the albums by The Ventures in the family collection. It's an instrumental surf-themed rock band from the '60s. Boy, how far we've come in the instrumental rock genre!

T.A.P. is a studio project featuring musicians from various parts of the world who are fluent in the rhythmic and musical language of progressive rock. They share a few things in common: good jam-sense and exceptional creativity.

What's most interesting to me about this album is its richness and variety and the adventurous spirit that animates it. If you're looking for a jazz fusion album, this is not it, though there are some splashes of jazz. In fact I don't recall hearing that many instrumental prog themed records that are not dominated by jazz-rock. So T.A.P. manages to stay mostly away from those more commonly taken pathways and instead offers up truly unique musical vistas by leaning into ambient, ethnic, blues and psychedelic influences.

The album meanders purposefully like a smooth volcanic lava flow from tune to tune, from idea to idea, never repeating itself, never treating any one idea as too precious not to follow and see where it takes its host musician. Be it Mike Jobborn on keyboards, synth, soundscapes, drum programming, or Mark Cook on the Stick-like Warr guitar, guitars, basses, drums, soundscapes, synths, samples or strings. Then you've got Suzi James on guitars, basses, oud, flute, random percussion and Gayle Ellett covering keyboards such as Hammond, Moog and mellotron (Ellett is from another instrumental prog band that apparently I need to look into called Djam Karet). A couple of tracks feature drummers in the flesh: Paul Sears (track 5) and Bill Bachman (track 8). The tracks with drum programming are so good that I was fooled.

I won't use the word 'metal' as a descriptive here either because the music is couched in rock and hard rock in general. This will be a plus to those who are not fans of djent or super-dense Dream Theater-type electric guitar distortion (just hints of it in parts).

I find this to be an impressive album. I would have scored it higher but I really value drummers in the flesh on all of the tracks if at all possible. I love this CD though. It commands your full attention and isn't a 'put it on and ignore it' album just because it's fully instrumental. There's plenty here to 'study'. It has plenty of musical meat and potatoes and is a rare instrumental offering that proves you don't always have to rely on jazz tropes (except for a bit here and there) to create an instrumental prog buffet. So bring your appetite to this table of solid offerings, it's sure to fill you up.

Report this review (#2968480)
Posted Monday, November 13, 2023 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is quite the progressive project, combining some serious global talent, namely Fearful Symmetry's guitarist Suzie James from the UK, Canada's Mike Jobborn on keyboards, Americans Mark Cook on Warr guitar and bass, drummers Paul Sears and Bill Bachman and finally Gayle Ellett showing his mellotron skills among other ivories. The material is all instrumental and focuses clearly on complex evolutions of experimental progression, and certainly not aimed for the faint of heart or the dancing disco bunny glitterati. The delivery is intense, demanding attention from the audience that must concentrate on the sounds and imagining whatever individual emotions that make come of them, a typical modern prog adventure.

The sprawling 12 minute 'Infinite Names' is a scorching slice of futuristic expanse, proposing a mind-numbing gurgle of synthesized substance, on which guitarist Mark Cook gets to channel his nasty Warr guitar with some lethal oblique runs in apparent controlled exuberance. The apocalyptic disposition shifts into a subdued electronics drenched segment that sets up a bluesier fretboard foray, with a laid-back beat and some delirious soloing from the crisscrossing of Suzy James' fluid guitar and the intrusive Warr beast. Another wave of sonic serenity is the perfect set-up for the audience to settle in and get comfortably numb. The finale rekindles the finer moments of the Robert Fripp-Andy Summers collaboration back in the early 80s. 'The Progbient' has all the musical ingredients in its title, an ominously fluttering soundscape that infuses a supremely funky e-piano played by Jobborn with gusto, an upbeat diversion that has immediate impact qualities that cannot be ignored, laced with subtle mellotron washes. The moody perspective of 'Initiate Protocol 7' recalls the kind of soundtrack one would hear in some strange sci-fi movie where cowboys and aliens would meet on some forgotten mesa, the dual guitar work showcasing the two sides, little dabs of flute from Suzy adding flair to the effort and some foundational e-piano, a hallmark feature on a multitude of tracks (love that instrument!).

Veering towards more orchestral string arrangement expanses at first, 'Signal Transactions' travels into adventurous playfulness, once again led by the combination bass, e-piano and choppy guitars, with James flipping a seductive bluesy solo into the mix. The business gestures are confirmed with some amazing classical violin arrays that help the sun settle on the horizon. Speaking of which, the colossal album centrepiece 'Silence from the Storm' (it will get a HOI mix at the end, totalling over 20 minutes for the two) is without any hesitation the 'piece de resistance', a cinematic voyage in one's imagination, a fully anchored progressive rock manoeuvre with Suzy's rolling bass , Paul Sears (the Muffins) on the drum kit , James and Cook dueling once again with their respective stringed weapons of mass entertainment, while Mike and Gayle lay down torrents of organ and synths. The themes are actually complex yet thoroughly enjoyable, with elevated melodic content, a pre-requisite for enjoying this style of instrumental mayhem. This is a crowning achievement track that should garner massive applause from the prog community, as it has all the goods!

Some fascinating 'americana' with the intriguing 'The Last Words of Dutch Schultz' (a famous New York mobster, assassinated by two Murder Inc hitmen, in a restaurant). A musical whirlpool of eerie keyboards, flickering Moog from Ellett and more growling e-piano, topped off by some sweeter electric guitar flurries, set in a retro-futuristic setting as would befit the storyline. A sombre finale closes the mortuary. Dutch Schultz's final words were: 'A boy has never wept'nor dashed a thousand kim. You can play jacks, and girls do that with a soft ball and do tricks with it. Oh, oh, dog Biscuit, and when he is happy, he doesn't get snappy'. Delirium or poetry?

I have been a huge fan of Mark Cook's playing, having latched on early to both his Herd of Instinct albums as well as Spoke of Shadows, and of course collaborating with the mighty Djam Karet. On 'Terminus', this gifted multi- instrumentalist gets to whip out his whole arsenal of devices, namely his trusted Warr, fretless guitar, fretless bass, electric piano, tamboura and soundscapes. Gayle adds mellotron, Mike plays the piano and synth, and Suzy operates her guitar. It's a kaleidoscope of glittering mirrored sounds emanating from every pore of the participating musicians and is a joy to behold.

As mentioned earlier, the album finishes off with a Herd of Instinct remix of 'Silence from the Storm', with drummer Bill Bachman manning the drums, and James adding some pulsating bass to the mix. The first one was a masterpiece, this is its close cousin, with same blood, same sweat, and identical enjoyment. A fascinating recording which will enthuse the most discriminating fan and most assuredly the prog musician community as well, as this is quite a mammoth experiment in aural splendour. Do yourself a favour and get this into your collection as soon as possible.

5 theories

Report this review (#2968924)
Posted Saturday, November 18, 2023 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Here we have the debut album from T.A.P., a multinational group of musicians who have known each other for years in one way or another, yet only recently decided to work together to create their own music. Mike Jobborn (keyboards, synth, soundscapes, drum programming), Mark Cook (Warr guitar, guitars, basses, drums, soundscapes, synths, samples, strings) and Suzi James (guitars, bass, oud, flute, percussion) play on all eight tracks while Gayle Ellett (Hammond, Moog, Mellotron) is on five and then Paul Sears and Bill Bachman add drums to one song each (although I must say the drum programming on the other tracks is much better than is often the case).

I reviewed Gayle and Mark only recently (Gayle Ellett and the Electromags), plus have known the music of Djam Karet for decades, while The Muffins (Paul Sears) is never too far away from my playlists and I reviewed the debut Fearful Symmetry (Suzi James) album a while back and Mike Jobborn and I have been FB friends for years. Knowing so many people in a band can actually be a problem at times (I am also friends with Gayle, Paul and Suzi!), as there is always the worry that if an album is not as good as one might expect how do I say that without upsetting someone? Luckily that has not happened too often, and generally we became friends in the first place because I enjoyed their work, and here we have something which is an absolute delight. There are times when the music is quite Floydian, where the instruments are blended in such a way that they rarely move above the keyboards but rather blend in to create something which is amorphic, changing and swelling as the need arises. There are others when it is more direct, but always the feeling is that this is a living and breathing stream of consciousness, something which is in motion and creating its own path as it meanders through the landscape and to fully appreciate the delights one needs to immerse oneself in the flow.

The interplay between the instruments is delicate, and there is very much the feeling this will always be a studio project just because there are so many threads being brought in and out, multiple guitars and keyboards mixing with the rhythm section, yet there are also times when people take a rest and sit back, knowing their contribution to that section of the music is not to be involved at all. This is thoughtful stuff; there has been no sense of ego or self as all those involved have put that to one side and instead have become part of a collective whole. This is not music to be played in the background but needs to be listened to on headphones when one has the time and inclination to let the rest of the world pass by. This is timeless album, and somehow feels quite modern (although wonderfully dated at times by the Hammond) yet belongs to the era when people listened to music just for its own sake as opposed to being another background noise. If that is you, then there is much here to enjoy.

Report this review (#3028522)
Posted Friday, March 8, 2024 | Review Permalink

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