Any artist no matter what medium they are working in who take themselves too seriously, run a major risk of coming off as pompous assholes. Sometimes this pomposity is reflective of the artist’s personality and other times it is simply the culmination of the heavy burdens which years of hard work and total immersion into one’s subject trying to obtain perfection, or at least to put out the best work possible in hopes of gaining if not some deep personal satisfaction, then at least perhaps a small audience of empathizers to give merit to the years of hard work put forth.
Then there are artists like Tab Sherman, real names Zak and Colin, whose brief self-penned bio states they are “two dudes from Seattle who mostly enjoy pizza and snacks. We like making tunes together in our living room.” Tab Sherman represents the other half of artistry, that pseudo-slacker with talent who doesn’t really have to try too hard and generally gets by much better than the hard working stiff who has no talent but a lot of determination.
So then does Zen Gardens EP seem the most fitting title for two guys who according to their Facebook bio categorize the genre of music they play as “munchadelic.” But for as funny as these things are, the songs on Zen Gardens, which fluctuate with influences of experimental jazz, rock, folk and psychedelia, are nothing to laugh about.
The opener “First Day” rolls in slowly like a fog with psychedelic wah wah guitar mellow drum beats and a few hazy vocals. “Grey Skies” starts out with melodic riffs reminiscent of later period Miles Davis and sparse bits of vocals, which end abruptly and let the music speak for itself as does its successor “Song for People.” The final two tracks “Fingers” and “Lavender” are mellow acoustic instrumentals.
Tab Sherman is the type of band that makes music simply for themselves and whoever else might care to listen. Their songs are easily pieced together and don’t stray too far away from a few simple beats and chords with arid vocals and instrumentation. Zen Gardens isn’t breaking any new ground, and I don’t think that was ever Tab Sherman’s intention, but it’s remarkably chill and “munchadelic” moods make it a perfect pairing for a variety of vices.
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