Kabob-O-Taj is the type of band that doesn't like to play it safe. Sure their recent release This Is A Tree has some catchy moments but the band isn't opposed to throwing it all in your face in favor of dissonance and non-traditional chord structures. Forming in 2009 Kabob-O-Taj stems from four songwriters from different musical backgrounds and influences. Who knew it would equate to a prolific album that refuses to fit into one niche. The band has more in common with free jazz than that a standard rock record.
The first track “Smudging” is indicative of some of intricate timing and dissonance you will hear throughout the album. It revolves around a circular, hypnotic guitar progression that cuts in and out as drums refuse to give in to a steady beat. The music starts to distill in a bubbling epicenter of noise before transitioning into “How Much Is Too Much?” The song starts off adhering to a fairly standard poppy structure with a bright, upbeat vocal melody. At about a minute-and-a-half in the band starts tearing up ubiquitous time signatures and chord structures before reverting to the verse. The last half of the song is money as horns get introduced into the mix and it slowly dissipates and falls apart.
“Vultures” has some moments that are pretty hardcore. The band thrashes and wails in their own kind of unpredictable way. Don’t cut this song short as the last twenty seconds sounds as if a psychedelic abyss is overtaking the band. The centerpiece is the seven-minute behemoth “Nowadays,” which is in a constant state of flux that contains enough changes it will make your head spin.
“Dead Hands” was another impressive piece that toys with your ability to try to walk a straight line while listening to it. The timing is gloriously all over the place but always in sync. The closer “Metaphysical Fist-Pound” features more hypnotic guitar scale progression but the band now explores the potential of possibility by doing the opposite of what your brain tells you.
My only minor, minor issue was with the production on This Is A Tree in that I thought it could have sounded better when they get heavy. There was little separation between the instruments. Certainly not bad but could have been a bit cleaner. Overall, Kabob-O-Taj s a technically proficient band that brings a unique style and flavor by pushing the limits of their instruments and ideas.
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