Taarkus - Stones - (7/10)
Published on February 18, 2016
There is something about the marriage of the flute, hammond organ and female vocals that conjures up images of occultism, witchcraft, pagan spirituality, and British horror films a la The Wicker Man. In contemporary music, Canada’s Blood Ceremony fits this bill perfectly well, somewhere hinged between ‘60s occult rock and doom metal. That is not to say that all ‘flute music’ be kept to such limitations, as proven here by L.A. newcomers Taarkus – their single Stones is a union between haunting minimalism and funereal doom.
Consisting of two tracks built on minimalist chord progressions with a heavy organ drone slicing through the thick smoke, Stones is more Jex Thoth than Blood Ceremony. It is a slow procession through halls of great marble arches into fields covered in the fog of ages. It’s A-side, the slower of the two, has a strong Thergothon vibe with its slow crawl, the guitars take a step back into the mix until the closing minute, and coupled with the trance-inducing vocals, it sends its listener drifting through the rich atmospheres conjured up within the music. This is countered by the B-side: After Midnight leans more toward the occult rock rhythms of groups like Black Widow, it’s lyrics are sung and not dreamt, the guitars play more of a prominent role and thus delivers a tune that one peacefully nod one’s head to. The song’s soaring climax is nothing short of sensational.
All throughout the ten minute running time, the flute does not become so prominent to enable this release being classed as ‘flute rock’ as some pundits have labelled it. Stones is a fairly gentle balance of doom and ‘70s rock (spot the resemblances to ELP?) that should appeal to those who sit on either side of the fence. The question remains though: will this balance continue into a new full length?