In 1982, Ridley Scott’s film “Blade Runner” envisioned a dark Los Angeles of the future – in November 2019, to be precise.
In other words, there’s no better time to dance to some funk grooves laced with synthetic tones and cyberpunk themes – and Long Island’s TAUK is coming to The Lariat Thursday to deliver.
“Our music is instrumental, so it can mean anything. This time around we wanted to give it some sort of shape, some sort of concept,” TAUK guitarist Matt Jalbert said of the foursome’s latest record, “Shapeshifter II: Outbreak.”
“All of us are into different sci-fi stuff. The technology, where things are headed and all that kind of stuff. So we used that as a loose framework, sort of a loose story,” Jalbert said.
The songs don’t have lyrics, so the details of that story are up to your own interpretation and imagination. Like how most people read the news.
“It gives you a framework to imagine the songs,” Jalbert said. “It puts you in a world.”
“Shapeshifter” combines a sort of funky, fusion jam with the kinds of sounds that came to define cinematic soundtracks in the 1980s, when Vangelis wrote the score for “Blade Runner” and “Chariots of Fire” and John Carpenter scored his own horror films with a Sequential Circuits Prophet-5.
In recent years there’s been a retro-futuristic revival of this kind of music under the name “synthwave,” most famously in the popular soundtrack to Netflix’s “Stranger Things.”
Ironically, “Shapeshifter” was recorded in a 100-year-old house in the band’s hometown of Oyster Bay, N. Y., on Long Island on the edge of the New York City sprawl.
“We just went into this old house and just brought a bunch of gear in and set up a studio on the spot,” Jalbert said. “It had a certain vibe, and I think that stuff creeps into the music in funny ways that’s just hard to put your finger on.”
The group’s four members, Jalbert, bassist Charlie Dolan, keyboardist A.C. Carter and drummer Isaac Teel grew up together on Long Island, and Jalbert said each member brings a different musical history to the table to create TAUK’s sound. In 2012, the group began touring as TAUK
“Isaac grew up playing music in church, so he comes from that background and brings that to the table, which is great, it’s a totally different side of things,” Jalbert said. “I know A.C. started off playing classical piano and I started off playing classical guitar as well. Everyone has their own taste and to the day everyone listens to their own stuff.”
The four came around the funk because “for all of us there’s a mutual love for that kind of music. Something that makes you want to move,” Jalbert said.
TAUK plays The Lariat with Cycles Thursday, Nov. 7.