Erik Conn: Drums
Andrew Duplantis: Bass
Jason Morales: Guitar
Ezra Reynolds: Keys On Track # 2
Curt Christenson: Bass On Track # 4
Jason Morales: Vocals on Track # 5
Engineered by Jason Morales. Recorded @ Goodtimes Home Studio - Austin, TX.
Mixing by Mark Deutrom & Jason Morales.
Mastered by Chris Goosman @ Baseline Audio - Ann Arbor, MI.
Cover design and photography by Andrea Donio.
Band photo by Aasim Syed.
Art direction by Erik Conn.
Let there be jam! It's safe to say that this is the guideline for the Texas band TIA CARRERA who have also internalized the spirit of Jimi Hendrix. Suddenly Carlos Santana appears (of course, it's the Woodstock incarnation, when he was playing original music while trippin' on LSD) and adds a good dose of heavy Latin-esque stuff to TIA CARRERA's fully improvised monster jams. A singer is not needed, because guitarist Jason Morales fills three of the five tracks completely with his tube-driven, psychoactive licks and solos. The opening track 'Home' is just a mellow start, before 'The Unnamned Wholeness' arrives much like an approaching thunderstorm. J. Morales earthy and crunchy guitar tone as well as his impressive performance are definitely the main attraction in TIA CARRERA's ritual worship of the heavy sounds from the late 1960's.
However, the rhythm section, consisting of drummer Eric Conn and bassist Andrew Duplantis, is not lagging behind in this respect. E. Conn's unique powerful drumming style and A. Duplantis energetic basslines are woven together into tight and impermeable structures on which the guitar finds complete expression. Within their musical framework it is therefore necessary to extend the running time of 'The Unnamed Wholeness' to twenty-two minutes plus. It takes the listener on a journey through different moods and influences that sometimes goes beyond 1960's/1970's territories. 'New Orleans' is the second centerpiece of this album even if it's "only" fifteen minutes long but time doesn't mean that much to TIA CARRERA. Some things need much time to unfold their full beauty, and also 'New Orleans' that wallows in Sabbathian blues. Later, the song draws closer to pure blues rock without losing it enormous punch.
'Gypsies' is caught between this epic chunks of pure heavy rock virtuosity and it can compare in every respect with its bigger brothers. It is quite impressive to hear how J. Morales takes his instrument to new heights of awesomeness to discover some seriouly hot 'n' crispy sounding tones. 'Hazy Winter' concludes the electric storm of 'The Quintessential'. It's the only acoustic and non-instrumental song where J. Morales shows that he's also a good singer. The gentle and folk-influenced sounds of 'Hazy Winter' are offering pure relaxtion and it creates a nice contrast to the core of the album. A massive production provides a huge sound and round off this heavy muscular spectacle. Here we have a truly superb album from a exceptionally inspired band and if you can't get enough from the heavy sounds of the good old days then TIA CARRERA should be on your next shopping list.
Over the course of just a few releases, Tia Carrera has proven not only to be among the best of the modern stoner psych bands, but also one that has paved its own path through the influences that permeate the genre.
Their latest album (and first for stoner haven Small Stone Records), The Quintessential, may seem like they have perhaps mellowed a bit, shying away from the heavy helpings of Black Flag free punk that gave their earlier releases an explosiveness that can elude the stoner set. A good listen though, shows that this "mellowing" doesn't mean less intensity, only a different intensity.
Any concerns about this slight shift in direction are quickly allayed by "Home," the album's opener. Waves of the spaciest space rock easily take the album to new destinations. Heavier, bluesy acid rock takes hold on "The Unnamed Whole" where driving rhythms and exploding riffs both elevate and ground the 20+ minutes of psychedelic exploration. The albums other expansive jam, "New Orleans," walks, runs and wanders in that space between Zeppelin and Hendrix, where so many great rock songs have taken root, exploring both the mellow and the manic fringes of sanity. The phased vocals and acoustic guitars of "Hazy Winter" let the album down easy, but it's another kind of easy that you've ever experienced.
The Quintessential isn't quite as overtly crazy as Tia Carrera's earlier work, particularly the mind-boggling You Are the War 7", but to say that it takes a step back to sanity misses the point. The spacey madness of the record simmers more than boils, but in the end, you're head will feel just as cooked. Be careful listening to this one, because it's such a trip that the DEA might come knocking on your door when Tia Carrera is declared a controlled substance.
- Bob Vinyl
Five mammoth jams on five different labels, not including singles and compilation tracks, culminate in spontaneous metallurgists Tia Carrera's The Quintessential for Detroit rock indie Small Stone Records. The barely harnessed monster-truck pull of the local trio's 2003 debut on Perverted Son, The November Session, a radioactive sandstorm (34-minute closer "J Bankston Manor"), ripened on the sweat-lodge doom of a vinyl-only follow-up for Emperor Jones before peaking on the deeply baked crop circles of 2006's eponymous Australian Cattle God bow. The Quintessential, then, most resembles 2007 Arclight Records EP Heaven/Hell, where two main movements split a half-hour. Here, needling sonic prologue "Home" and acoustic backwater "Hazy Winter" sandwich three main tracks, cauldron stewed by Jason Morales, Erik Conn, and Andrew Duplantis, bassist Curt Christenson subbing in for Son Volt's Duplantis on one track. The droning Persian accents of "The Unnamed Wholeness," sewn with Ezra Reyonlds' keyboards, loose Morales' serpent (Gibson) SG, which writhes to the primal summons of Conn's Bonham-esque toms. Kashmir, Tierra del Fuego, Saturn – feel the burn, layered lysergic phosphorous. At 22 minutes, it bottles one of Tia Carrera's quintessential jags. "Gypsies" mucks about at relative speed-metal length – six minutes – banding together Buddy Miles and Hendrix before disappearing into the quicksand of "New Orleans." Humid, bottomless, the 15-minute consumption can't match the sparks of "The Unnamed Wholeness," but its Southern sludge reeks pungently verdant. Quintessence: "The fifth and highest element in ancient and medieval philosophy that permeates all nature and is the substance composing the celestial bodies."
- RAOUL HERNANDEZ
Tia Carrera the band is not as sexy and sleek as the actress. Hell, they don’t even spell their names the same. This Tia Carrera is a shriveled old mystic with a glass eye who curses you in tongues. Her neon sign calls to you from a dimly-lit back alley in Austin, Texas — not Hawaii — and you’re just drunk enough to let her crack open your soul. You walk in and are surrounded by bubbling walls and incense and Ste. Clare of Assisi candles. The whole place is HEAVY and envelops you like a robe of molasses. Then it hits you HARD and all of a sudden you’re drowning in a cough syrup haze and the hex is ON. You leave a lifetime later with an empty wallet and a jangled mind.
One day you’re going to reach a point where you’ll realize you’re not getting old, you’re getting better, and your youthful ADD, with its glass chewing and frantic fucking, will be nothing more than fashionable feedback from the burnt out amplifier of life. Now it’s time to SOAK. Now it’s time to SLEEP. Now it’s time to surf the cosmos where true aural enlightenment awaits. The Quintessential, then, with its mean freak jams and pure rock transcendence, is calling you home like that neon sign. If you’ve found a new dope smoking path of glory with bands like Ancestors, Earthless, Om, Pelican, and Earth, Tia Carrera will surely punch the loose, psychedelic ticket on that same fantastic ride.
Tia Carrera boasts members who shaped some pretty cool bands in their past lives (the Butthole Surfers being a particularly cool reference for me).
What you have here is an album of such lolloping 'I am fucking cool and you WILL love be God damn you' riff and jam that you will wonder if this is the primordial soup from which all things Earthless and Mammatus were formed.
Fuzz Rock shouldn't be packaged and over processed and falsified and this record is perfect proof of why because when you let the artists (is that too formal a title for Eric Andrew and Jason?) express themselves without a restrictive 'record company splint' to express along you get records such as this.
This record is a beautiful, brutal and jaw droppingly cool descent into riff worship and wah wah flavoured heaviness. If you don't nod your head and relish every moment of 'drumstick / ride cymbal communion' then you aren't human and you shouldn't be reading this and you probably shouldn't be listening to fuzz rock and you probably should never pick up a guitar and possibly even maybe should never grow your hair or do any of things that fans of this genre do in between reefers.
This record will fuzz you up good and hard..... And then they SING at you (Hazy Winter)....... Brilliant.
If you buy this album you will LOVE listening to it, if you don't buy it then you really should make plans to sell all of your other records and buy it somehow, somewhere, somehow.
- Jon Davis
The members of Tia Carrera surely had their tongues planted firmly in cheek when they decided to name their third full album, and first for Small Stone, The Quintessential -- which, come to think of it, is generally where instrumental combos keep their tongues while their hands and fingers do the talking. And, as per their custom, the Austin, Texas trio recorded the album's five, lysergic trips live in their studio, largely improvising as they went, and literally materializing out of the darkness -- or silence, as it were -- with the swirling crescendo of first cut "Home." A mere three-minute trifle, this leads into a 22-minute behemoth, suitably (un) titled the "The Unnamed Wholeness," which at firsts seems intent on imagining what Hendrix's necromantic fingers and molten tones might have done with The Doors' "The End," before waxing and waning like lunar tides of controlled feedback and distortion. By contrast, the six-minute "Gypsies" lacks a real beginning, middle, or end -- it just is -- simply churning along as guitarist Jason Morales becomes one with his wah-wah pedal; but the fifteen-minute "New Orleans" raises eyebrows once again with its swampy blues mist, blanketing a thick, gooey, Southern doom/sludge foundation. And yet The Quintessential's biggest surprise is saved for its closing bite-sized acoustic guitar nugget, "Hazy Winter," which, for all intents and purposes, is a Morales solo effort that actually sees him opening his trap and singing in a slightly tipsy falsetto! The latter may seem like an unnecessary, form-breaking, sacrilege to some diehards, but to others it will surely freshen up the room of all that pot smoke before mom and dad bust down the door, so take it as you will. Tia Carrera's homegrown crop is definitely not for everyone, but it's certainly worthy of cult-ivation.
- Eduardo Rivadavia
Back in September 1968, Jimi Hendrix was touring the US West Coast with The Soft Machine and Eire Apparent. Vanilla Fudge’s mafioso managers thought they should also be that tour. An offer was made that could not be refused and The Fudge was on the bill. Carmine Appice has told many stories of all the times he played with Jimi and Fudge bassist Tim Bogart at soundchecks and late night jam sessions. No tapes of these mythical jams have surfaced, but the new album from Tia Carrerra called The Quintessential would probably fool most people if you told them it was.
Hailing from Austin, the dirt weed capitol of Texas, this is Tia Carrera’s fifth album but first for Small Stone. According to a post on their myspace page, they spent about a year and a half “tracking, procrastinating, getting high, weeding out jams and finally mixing” The Quintessential. A year and half is actually a pretty short time when you consider that most of these songs tap into the endless boogie that began when primitive man first discovered the majic of combining flame and lotus.
The majority of this album is comprised of lengthy instrumental space jams. “The Unnamed Wholeness” is 22 minutes and probably sounds like what Jimi heard through his 3rd eye as he watched the Hawkwind at the Isle of Wight. “Gypsies” is relatively brief at 6 minutes. It fades in mid jam and has the feel of the Band Of Gypsies playing after hours. The 15 minute long “New Orleans” is a slow blues that Johnny Winter might have played if he got strung out on LSD instead of heroin.
The album is bookended with two short songs. “Home” is the opener with a trippy, mystical feel. Lots of controlled feedback and mallets on the cymbals. The closer is a different story. The acoustic guitar on “Hazy Winter” sounds almost shocking after all the fuzzed out wahwah freakouts. And there’s even some vocals from guitarist Jason Morales that are obscured in effects as he tells us we took the wrong steps years ago.
Tia Carrera plays it tight but loose and should be huge on the jam band circuit, but their fuzzed out filth would flip the lids of trust fund kids who want to play hacky sack to Dave Matthews. Their loss is our gain. Turn up, drop in and blast off.
Oh feedback, you’re the greatest. You fill out songs, you give that raw rock edge, you can either be sweet and warm or harsh and jagged. Without you, there simply wouldn’t be heavy rock. You’re the embodiment of the spirit of music so often lost in today’s cookiecutter, corporate agendified radio milieu. When you’re not near me, I’m blue. Oh feedback, I love you. Here’s a haiku I wrote in your honor:
Sound waves, crashing, crest
Themselves on shores of the mind.
Six strings sitting still.
Austin, Texas, mostly improve jam trio Tia Carrera start their Small Stone Records full-length debut, The Quintessential, with a solid four minutes of softly honed feedbacking on the track “Home,” accompanied by cymbal washes and ambient guitar notes. It’s a peaceful beginning to an active album, full of unexpected twists and changes in approach that have the band, whose live presence is a thing of dirty classic rock beauty, jamming until the tape runs out on “New Orleans” (they bought the 15-minute tape), and pushing even further on the 22-minute “The Unnamed Witness,” while also trying out structure and composition (and vocals!) on mostly-acoustic closer “Hazy Winter.”
Named partially for the Porche and partially for the Hawaii-born actress best known for being on the other end of the “She will be mine, oh yes, she will be mine” in both Wayne’s World movies (who ends her last name with an -e), Tia Carrera could only really call The Quintessential any kind of accomplishment if it captured the hypnotic live spirit that’s so much of what makes the band special. After getting lost several times in “The Unnamed Wholeness” — perhaps titled for that very engrossing effect the band has on its listeners — it’s safe to say that indeed, the full-length that follows EPs like Heaven/Hell and The November Session brings to a tiny plastic disc the swaying rock energy and spontaneity essential to what they do. And in grand, interesting fashion. Separating the two massive jams, the shorter, probably-improvised “Gypsies” feels like a moment of respite without actually being one, so fluid is the grooving methodology of Tia Carrera.
The three players, Erik Conn (drums), Andrew Duplantis (bass) and Jason Morales (guitar) are on a mission largely unique unto itself in the leafy rock underground. Many bands out there seek to capture the feel and essence of big guitar’s heyday, but where they might do it with some cool Sabbath riffs and Bonham fills, Tia Carrera have stumbled onto an anti-formula that stands them apart from their modern peers and harkens directly to the freewheeling jams of yesteryear. An impeccable vibe that will appeal to fans of the genre with an ear toward the natural creation of music. And feedback.
- H.P. Taskmaster
No, children, this is not the long-gestating stoner rock project from the object of Wayne and Garth’s lust. Tia Carrera is an Austin, Texas-based power trio that drops a shit-ton of acid, stares off into the void of deep space and spews what it fantasizes out of its amplifiers like jism from Kronos’ phallus. Known throughout the land of Central TX as the best psychedelic improvisers this side of a blitzed-out love child of Hawkwind and the Bevis Frond, guitarist Jason Morales (once of Austin noise rockers Starfish), bassist Andrew Duplantis (of far too many bands to count, though currently of Son Volt, believe it or not) and drummer Erik Conn make cosmic mushroom rock that masticates your mind and motors down the magnetic highway without even once meandering into mush. The six strings of Morales lead the way here, exploding in a supernova of tangled melody, untangled riffs and as many effects pedals as can be stomped all at once. Conn rages like Keith Moon if his beloved surf music had come from Mars, while Duplantis does his best to keep his companions from blasting off without a compass. New Orleans oozes forward like a giant caterpillar in a Godzilla flick, while Gypsies gives you the beating you deserve, maggot. Home floats into the ether like smoke from the ruins, while Hazy Winter both lovingly and trippingly unplugs and vocalizes, both new tricks for this crew. The Unnamed Wholeness is 20 minutes of crazed cosmic destruction/creation, the Big Bang translated into amp-frying psychedelic damage. It probably goes without saying that the best way to really experience Tia Carrera is to hit a gig and dunk your head deeply into their bucket of lysergic stardust, but the aptly-titled The Quintessential is by far the next best thing to being (out) there. Fuckin’ genius.
- Michael Toland
Shortly before going on a signing spree that involved the majority of New England's hard rock bands, Small Stone Records snatched up Austin, Texas' Tia Carrera. It was a savvy decision for a multitude of reasons – one being that the group's garnered some mainstream recognition (Rolling Stone took a brief moment gushing over the latest tween sensation to praise the band), which should mean good things for both Tia Carrera and Small Stone – but the biggest one would be that they're just a damn good act.
Over the course of a handful of EPs, live recordings, and full-lengths, their method has been as simple as it gets - plug in and play, figuring it out as they go along – and yet what's delivered is on a higher level, one that most bands that practice morning, noon, and night can't come close to replicating. The Quintessential continues that tradition of impassioned, impromptu instrumentals.
The album boasts of two lengthy, epic-like jams (“The Unnamed Wholeness” and “New Orleans”), with shorter, more restrained compositions in between (opener “Home,” which is mostly a lesson in ambiance and “Gypsies,” a Hendrix-loving interlude), and with what I believe is a first – a song with vocals (“Hazy Winter”) - at the end. There's not much else to say about “Home” and “Gypsies,” but I could certainly go on and on about the two 15-plus minute tracks. Both take a seed of an idea from classic rock and let them grow wild, spiraling upwards as the bass, guitar, and drums take turns taking the lead. The shifts are subtle, more often than not adding more color. Like their brethren in Earthless and Delicious, Tia Carrera knows when a riffs been played out and, more importantly, know how to change directions without making it seem forced.
And like Earthless, Tia Carrera could add more vocals to their songs and not be worse off for it. Guitarist Jason Morales does an admirable job crooning on the wistful, acoustic “Hazy Winter.” All in all, The Quintessential's bound to be well received by both those who already know of the band and those just discovering them.
- John Pegoraro