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Salvage Station

468 Riverside Drive

Asheville, NC 28801

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TAUK

On their new album Shapeshifter II: Outbreak, New York-bred band TAUK offer an
unsettling but ultimately exhilarating look at artificial intelligence and its potential to
upend our world. With its dynamic sense of tension and cinematic mastery of mood,
TAUK’s all-instrumental blend of progressive rock, hip-hop, and jazz proves to be the
perfect backdrop for such explorations, giving way to an album that’s both powerfully
hypnotic and intensely thought-provoking.
“We’re all very much interested in A.I., and this idea of machines getting out of the
hands of the people trying to control them,” notes TAUK guitarist Matt Jalbert, whose
bandmates include bassist Charlie Dolan, keyboardist Alric “A.C.” Carter, and drummer
Isaac Teel. “This album felt like a good setting to tell that kind of story, but in a way
where we could have fun with it and let the listener escape into a whole other world.”
Equally inspired by classic sci-fi like Blade Runner and more recent films like Ex
Machina, Shapeshifter II: Outbreak embeds that narrative into TAUK’s most sonically
adventurous, emotionally expansive work to date. A continuation of their early-2018 EP
Shapeshifter I: Construct, the new album picks up its predecessor’s narrative thread
with “Prelude”: a fantastically unsettling intro track whose frenetic keyboard work and
chilling vocal samples set the tone for what’s to come. “The idea is that in the EP you’re
seeing the construction of this being, and in the album you’re seeing it break out and
become something that you can’t ignore anymore,” Carter explains.
From there, TAUK charge forward with the driving rhythms of “Recreational Outrage” (a
track laced with the ominous throb of a robotic heartbeat), the futuristic soundscape and
heady grooves of “CMF 9000,” the gauzy reverie and glorious chaos of “Checkmate,”
and the bright melodies and soulful guitar sprawl of “Convoy.” One of the album’s most
mesmerizing moments, “Let It Ride” builds a brilliant tapestry from its luminous
keyboard tones, kinetic guitar work, and kaleidoscopic rhythms. And on “Upside Down,”
TAUK close out Shapeshifter II: Outbreak with a thrillingly epic burst of unfettered
experimentalism.
Free-flowing yet elaborately composed, Shapeshifter II: Outbreak came to life in
collaboration with TAUK’s longtime cohort Robert Carranza—a Grammy Award-winning
producer/mixer/engineer also known for his work The Mars Volta, Ozomatli, Marilyn
Manson, and Taj Mahal. In a departure from their previous releases (including 2016’s
Sir Nebula), the band shunned the typical studio environment and holed up for weeks in
a long-abandoned, century-old home that Teel describes as “the Jumanji house meets
Addams Family meets Amityville Horror.” Located in their homeland of Long Island, the
house turned out to be the ideal spot for their makeshift studio, allowing for a creativity-
enhancing seclusion. “Overall the whole process was incredibly organic—there were no
constrictions as far as time or space, nothing ever felt forced,” says Dolan. “There was a
greater feeling of possibility, and it ended up being a really liberating experience for all
of us.” Jalbert adds: “The location definitely added to the vibe of everything we were
going for. It was like we set up a laboratory in the middle of nowhere and shut off the
rest of the world, which really helped get us into a specific headspace.”

True to its thematic terrain, Shapeshifter II: Outbreak endlessly blurs the boundaries
between organic and electronic, with TAUK broadening their sonic palette to include a
vast spectrum of synth sounds and programmed effects (such as those exquisitely eerie
vocal samples heard in “Prelude”). And in sculpting the album’s intricate arrangements,
TAUK called on such esteemed musicians as The Naughty Horns, Ghost-Note’s Nate
Werth (a percussionist who’s also played with David Crosby, Q-Tip, and Snarky Puppy),
and Juan Alderete (longtime bassist for Racer X and The Mars Volta).
Throughout Shapeshifter II: Outbreak, TAUK reveal the potent chemistry they
discovered in childhood, when longtime friends Dolan, Jalbert, and Carter formed their
first band in seventh grade. After playing together in various projects, the trio brought
Teel into the fold in 2012, cementing the final lineup. Since then, TAUK have shared
stages with acts like Umphrey’s McGee, Widespread Panic, and Lettuce, appeared at
festivals like Electric Forest and Bonnaroo, and earned acclaim from major outlets like
the Washington Post (who praised TAUK for “creating a hard-charging, often melodic
fusion that—thanks to a penchant for improv—offers limitless possibilities”). As Teel
points out, the band’s incessant touring over the years has significantly strengthened
their musical connection. “The four of us as individuals are all very animated souls in
our own right,” he says. “We each have our ideas and our perspectives, and when it all
comes together, it creates this collective statement that takes on a life of its own.”
In creating Shapeshifter II: Outbreak, TAUK made that statement more deliberate and
impactful than ever before. But while several upcoming videos and the vibrant artwork
of illustrator Raul Urias add a new dimension to the album’s concept, the band
purposely maintained a certain open-endedness in its execution. “People tell us all
kinds of stories about what our songs mean to them, and it’s always cool to see how
wide the gamut of those stories is,” says Carter. “What the song means to me might not
be the same as what it means to you, but that’s one of the great things about this whole
experience. There’s room for everyone to develop whatever narrative they want.”



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Salvage Station

468 Riverside Drive

Asheville, NC 28801

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