No one would ever accuse Tauk of being easily defined. The four-piece Long Island-based outfit delves into a fusion of progressive rock, hip-hop and jazz that’s served them well over the past several years.
Ever since vocalist Alessandro Zanelli left the fold in 2011, the foursome of guitarist Matt Jalbert, bassist Charlie Dolan, keyboard player Alric “A.C.” Carter and drummer Isaac Teel have soldiered on to great success as an all-instrumental combo. The move has yielded a positive return, as the quartet has become a favorite on the jam-band circuit while sharing bills with the likes of Umphrey’s McGee, Widespread Panic and Lettuce. Along the way, Tauk has recorded four well-received albums.
The band is among the headliners at the 16th annual Camp Euforia music festival July 18 to 20, staged on a farm near Lone Tree. Tauk will perform on the main stage from 6 to 7:30 p.m. July 19.
The musicians’ love of the unorthodox found them drawing on science fiction and the concept of artificial intelligence to create a two-part project. It kicked off with the EP “Shapeshifter I: Construct” last year, followed later in 2018 by the full-length album, “Shapeshifter II: Outbreak.”
“The theme of artificial intelligence commentary on where we’re going in movies like ‘Ex Machina’ and ‘Black Mirror’ were definitely inspirations that we drew on to create these songs,” Carter said in a recent phone interview.
“Plus, we had an opportunity to set up in this old house (in Oyster Bay) that no one has been living in for years,” Carter said. “We put our sound board and all our gear in there and it happened in that house, in the living room. It was a really cool experience that we were able to do all the preproduction, recording and overdubs all in the same space. The house definitely lent itself to that, being old and creepy. It just had this vibe that fed into where we were trying to go.”
Recorded in December 2017, both albums will tickle the fancy of anyone who has an affinity for the funk-flavored jazz-fusion stylings of Medeski, Martin & Wood, Soulive and Sex Mob. Tauk does a deep dive into the sci-fi side of the pool, serving up songs ranging from the futuristic soundscape and heady grooves of “CMF 9000” and the psychedelic melding of guitar, keyboards and rhythms of “Let It Ride” to the melodic riffing infusing “Convoy” and juxtaposition of ethereal shadings and chaotic vibe of “Checkmate.” It’s the kind of sprawling musical approach that Carter feels is Tauk’s strength.
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“It’s really hard to put a genre to Tauk. I always ask people how they would describe it, and I get everything from instrumental rock-fusion to prog-fusion to funk. It ranges. I’m not really sure, but that’s a good place to be,” Carter said. “I think in today’s day and age, you look in the 1990s and there was post-rock and all this different variations of rock. What’s alternative rock now? There are so many different ways to have these subgenres.
“Now, it’s about what feels good and what’s coming back around. That’s obviously something that’s subjective, but if it feels good, it feels good. And people who know that will feel it.”
The roots for Tauk date back to when Carter, Jalbert and Dolan met up in middle school. What started out as jamming as part of an impromptu extracurricular activity, morphed into playing Long Island to booking gigs at Manhattan-based venues like The Bitter End.
Brooklyn drummer Teel was recruited by the trio after college. The unofficial fifth member of the band is music-industry veteran Robert Carranza, who has produced all of Tauk’s studio efforts.
What should fans expect July 19?
“Fans coming out to see us can expect a good time,” Carter said. “You’ve gotta dance and have fun. We take ourselves seriously, but you can’t take yourself too seriously. You have to remember that we’re doing this because it’s what we love to do ...
“The bottom line is that we want to have fun and make it enjoyable. Everything from a nice two-step and headbanging to jumping around — however you feel inspired — we definitely give 110 percent when we’re playing it live.”
WHAT: Camp Euforia
WHERE: Jerry Hotz Farm, 5335 Utah Ave. SE, Lone Tree
WHEN: July 18 to 20; gates open 4 p.m. July 18, 10 a.m. July 19 and 20
MAIN STAGE: July 19: 1 p.m. Jaden Carlson Band; 3:15 p.m. Old Salt Union; 6 p.m. Tauk; 8:45 p.m. Euforquestra; 11:30 p.m. Kung Fu. July 20: 11 a.m. Baberhood Bluegrass Band; 1 p.m. Beaker Brothers; 3:15 p.m. The Candymakers; 6 p.m. The Ghost of Paul Revere; 8:45 p.m. Horseshoes & Hand Grenades; 11:30 p.m. EUF Zeppelin; full schedule: Campeuforia.com/schedule
FEATURES: Music on three stages, yoga, kids’ activities, community drum circle, camping on-site
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TICKETS: $130 three-day pass; $110 two-day pass (Friday/Saturday); $70 Saturday-only pass; $70 RV parking; Campeuforia.com/tickets