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Terraphonics – ‘Tarab’ (Review)

It’s hard to place a finger on where the inspiration behind the debut album Tarab by Terraphonics came from. The album was released on March 31st, and features 8 tracks that flow together as one coherent whole, but contain sounds from all corners of the globe blended together into an experimental, futuristic vibe-fest that is an absolute trip from start to finish. It’s one of those albums that you can put on while you study, read, or write, and allow the spaced out tones draw you in and let your mind wander to the beat.

If I had to describe the album in one sentence, here’s what I would say: Tarab sounds like Thomas Kenney and the rest of the band flew a space shuttle around the world and collected their favorite samples, then landed right back in Charleston and threw it all down on one record. Of course they didn’t just throw the sounds together ranndomly, but carefully calculated and orchestrated each song to create something unique and compelling that can be enjoyed by music fans from all genres, with a bit of hip-hop, funk, soul, jazz, and everything in between tossed in a salad bowl with smooth, yet spicy dressing.

This incarnation of the band sports a vast lineup of Charleston’s musicians including Thomas Kenny, who provided a little bit of just about everything you hear on Tarab, Brandon Brooks (from JYVE), who played drums on most tracks, Alex Kellner, who provides some bass action, Jonathan Lovett on that atmospheric piano, Regina Ferguson and Jeffery Wilson on vocals, Dan Voss on saxophone, Gino Castillo with some added percussion, and Robbi Kenney for a bit of violin. Not all of the musicians contributed to every song, but they all came together to perform crucial parts that eventually formed the album as a whole.

Kenney told the Charleston City Paper that on future Terraphonics albums he would like to continue the diversification of sound by bringing in even more, and different, musicians. This will result in a sound that is still experimental, but fundamentally different than what they’ve created with Tarab, because each artist brings unique strengths that the band can work with. I think they’re on to something awesome with Terraphonics, and I look forward to hearing what they come up with next.

Terraphonics is a great addition to the impressive Coast Records lineup, which includes many of Charleston’s most talented musicians and continues to put out quality material. They recorded Tarab at Charleston’s Fairweather Studio, and Thomas Kenney produced and mixed the whole thing himself, with mastering from Steve Corrao at Nashville-based Sage Audio. Terraphonics threw an album release party at The Pour House on April 14th, and will play their next show at Bar Mash on May 8th; a Sample Jam with Kevin Shields from Little Stranger. Don’t miss out.

Stream Tarab by Terraphonics via Spotify below.