Taarka – Fading Mystery

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Liam Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

The word taarka refers to the process of roasting spices in Indian cooking.  When spice seeds are added to hot oil, they bring forth the intense flavours that provide the base for all Indian culinary delicacies.  It should be easy, then, for a reviewer to get a hold of such etymology and squeeze it dry.  But there is so much more than spice and intense flavour on Taarka’s Fading Mystery.  Here is a delicious dish of enough influences to keep even the least hungry listener nibbling.  There are moments of pure bluegrass magic, such as “What My Darlin’ Says” with its delectable exchange of solos from fiddler Enion Pelta-Tiller, guitarist Mike Robinson, mandolinist David Tiller and bassist Troy Robey and the rumbling and rambling Finn MacCool Crosses the Rocky Mountains.  There’s also some dazzling gypsy jazz on Retreat.  But the traditional genres are reshaped on the American foursome’s eighth release to create a refreshingly modern sound.  The opening track “Carried Away”, for example, would fit neatly into the repertoire of a contemporary rock combo, whilst the masterpiece of this record, Pelta-Tiller’s gorgeous Athena, injects the band’s Appalachian sound with the melodic and harmonic sensibilities of The Beatles.  Aside from the impressive interplay of guitar, mandolin, fiddle and bass on Fading Mystery, much of this album’s strength lies within the vocal chords of Enion Pelta-Tiller.  What we have here is a distinctively moreish voice that benefits from its blend of smoky innocence and occasional surprise of soaring flights.  It’s certainly the shimmering thread that keeps these ten tracks sewn tightly together.