Image by Seth Tinsley
Avant-punk-jazz may sound one step too far on the genre-mashing scale, but Tyneside trio Taupe have nailed a perfect fusion of jazz sensibilities with an anarchic punk aesthetic, all wrapped up in wilfully eclectic experimentalism on their second album, Fill Up Your Lungs And Bellow.
The trio, who are currently split between Newcastle, Manchester and Edinburgh, have found their distance has actually spurred them on to crystalize their sound. “In some ways it has refined what we hang on to and what we discard when we’re writing,” says guitarist Mike Parr-Burman. “On the plus side, it’s also reinstated that Taupe means a lot to us and has become a real labour of love,” drummer Adam Stapleford agrees.
The creative process may now be somewhat protracted, but alto-sax player Jamie Stockbridge reiterates that Taupe has always been a democratic group. “Adam tends to be the one who conceives an over-arching framework for a lot of the tunes, and Mike and I are belligerent editors, questioners and re-workers.”
“That usually means that each of our initial ideas and instincts get completely twisted and transformed by the band machine.” Adds Mike. “I think that side of things has really helped us to refine our musical personality as a group and unify our individual approaches, which are often quite different.”
Fill Up Your Lungs And Bellow is going to bite the hand off anyone who goes near it, but hopefully this will be part of its slightly sadomasochistic charm
Their new record, which came about thanks to a Kickstarter campaign last year, further cements the band’s approach, typified by the manic bursts of sax and percussion and riot of staccato sounds on opener A Clown Drools, while Don’t Look Down’s breakdown of skronky feedback squalls and glitches is delightfully bats. Average Colour Of A French Mole weaves in and out of eerie soundscapes, partnered with blaring, punchy rhythms and a chaos of odd sounds. As Adam puts it, it’s not a polite record, but it stands up firmly as an album filled with carefully crafted sonic joy. Occasionally playful, often anarchic, it’s an epic body of work which straddles genres and tastes. “Fill Up Your Lungs And Bellow is going to bite the hand off anyone who goes near it, but hopefully this will be part of its slightly sadomasochistic charm. Not for the fainthearted.”
Produced by Gateshead-based experimental musician Chris Sharkey, who has worked with the likes of Acoustic Ladyland, TrioVD and Shiver, the group feel his input helped them gain perspective on the record’s intricacies. “He has a love for that gap between the anarchic and highly considered, and a really adroit mastery of sound.” Jamie says. “Quite a lot of what we do is, frankly, really hard. He made us feel less precious about getting it right and re-injected a lot of playfulness, spontaneity and bravery into the performances, particularly in the sections that are quite meticulously composed.”
Taupe are a sight to behold on the live stage, as anyone who witnessed their NARC. Fest performance last year will attest: intense and full of studied and carefully controlled chaos. Their album launch party will take place at Newcastle’s Head of Steam on Friday 24th February, and Adam promises the audience will be pleasantly surprised. “You can expect a real spectacle. After shows, we regularly hear something along the lines of ‘it wasn’t quite my cup of tea, but I just couldn’t help but watch’.”