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The Quintessential

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Album Review

The members of Tia Carrera surely had their tongues planted firmly in cheek when they decided to name their third full album and first for Small Stone, The Quintessential, which, come to think of it, is generally where instrumental combos keep their tongues while their hands and fingers do the talking. And, as per their custom, the Austin, TX trio recorded the album's five lysergic trips live in their studio, largely improvising as they went, and literally materializing out of the darkness — or silence, as it were — with the swirling crescendo of first cut "Home." A mere three-minute trifle, this leads into a 22-minute behemoth, suitably (un)titled "The Unnamed Wholeness," which at first seems intent on imagining what Hendrix's necromantic fingers and molten tones might have done with the Doors' "The End" before waxing and waning like lunar tides of controlled feedback and distortion. By contrast, the six-minute "Gypsies" lacks a real beginning, middle, or end — it just is — simply churning along as guitarist Jason Morales becomes one with his wah-wah pedal; but the 15-minute "New Orleans" raises eyebrows once again with its swampy blues mist, blanketing a thick, gooey, Southern doom/sludge foundation. And yet The Quintessential's biggest surprise is saved for its closing, bite-sized, acoustic guitar nugget, "Hazy Winter," which, for all intents and purposes, is a Morales solo effort that actually sees him opening his trap and singing in a slightly tipsy falsetto! The latter may seem like an unnecessary, form-breaking sacrilege to some diehards, but to others it will surely freshen up the roomful of all that pot smoke before mom and dad bust down the door, so take it as you will. Tia Carrera's homegrown crop is definitely not for everyone, but it's certainly worthy of cult-ivation.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Many bands improvise their music, but in the case of the Austin, TX-based Tia Carrera, it's their entire career that seems to have happened that way -- spontaneously and without an ounce of planning. Not to be confused with the actress and occasional singer Tia Carrere, the band was first established (if you could call it that) in 2003 by guitarist Jason Morales and drummer Erik Conn, who were soon joined by bassist Andrew Duplantis, but no full-time singer. After all, the trio's live in-studio jams...
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The Quintessential, Tia Carrera
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