Taarka – Fading Mystery
Self Released – 1 May 2017 (UK Release)
Formed around husband and wife vocalists Enion Pelta-Tiller on five-string violin and David Tiller on mandolin and electric guitar, Taarka have, in different incarnations, been around for some 15 years, the current line-up featuring upright bassist Troy Robey and guitarist Mike Robinson, dipping into gypsy jazz, bluegrass and folk along the way. Four years ago their home/studio was destroyed in the Colorado floods, both it and the 10th anniversary of her brother’s death feeding into the songs here, recorded live in a one room cabin on the banks of eastern Virginia’s Potomac River.
The title of the album opener, Carried Away, clearly nods to the former, but is more about new starts and being one with nature as she sings “find your love and bring it on home, don’t forget where you belong.” Written and sung by David, with its rippling mandolin Polyamorous Polly Ann is a playful shanty-ish tale of a woman for whom monogamy isn’t an option.
The subsequent songs equally alternate between them as writers and vocalists. For Enion’s part, Athena with its fiddle and plucked mandolin calls on the Greek goddess of wisdom to illuminate the rhythm of life and its oft obscure meanings. The liltingly dreamy Don’t Go plays on a similar theme of destiny and finding meaning in the seeds we plant. The closing title track is a poignant tribute to her troubled late brother and again about seeking meaning amid the “darkness in the bright”.
Turning to David, he contributes two further numbers, the sprightly gypsy jazz I Could Really Use You Now and the darker folk shades of the rhythmically urgent Sun And Rain, another song treating on rebirth (“you’ve risen up from that fallen folly and mended your wounded knees”), Enion driving it along with some scorching jazzy fiddle while he replies on mandolin.
The remaining three tracks, What My Darlin’ Says, the Django-ish Retreat and, in a similar mood but with more of an Appalachian tint, Finn MacCool Crosses The Rocky Mountains are all fiddle-led bluegrass instrumentals by Enion that showcase the duo’s abilities on their respective instruments. Their music a rootsy masala, the band’s name apparently comes from a term for the Indian spices roasted until they pop. The flavours are decidedly moreish.
Photo Credit: Anne Staveley