The Tacachale Chamber Orchestra is, from what can be gathered, an experimental psychedelic folk and alternative rock project based in Gainesville, Florida. Solid information on the “band” is difficult to come by, as the official website seems to be some sort of bizarre, pseudo-factual theatrical presentation that offers little in the way of explanatory content. Self-dubbed “the world's most precious band”, the Tacachale Chamber Orchestra probably isn't a musical ensemble, but more likely the solo creation of a composer and producer named Matthew Bert Goode. The “group” (we'll call it a group just for the sake of the review) has created a variety of strange content and publicity fascinations, such as writing a fake history stating that the Tacachale Chamber Orchestra was formed in 1896, going through a series of lineup and instrument changes until eventually implementing instrumentation from synthesizers and turn-tables in the 1980s. The group picture the “band” claims for itself is both bizarre and somewhat hilarious, appearing to be a collection of six portraits/mugshots from random people that have been put together resulting in a very peculiar and, well, diverse cast of characters. This debut EP, called “Ocean Floor Funeral” was completed over the summer and is a collection of songs that Matthew Bert Goode had written over the course of the past decade. Interestingly, this EP is actually part of a split, being that other material was recorded but will be put on another EP titled “Heaven's Gate Revival”, which will be out later this year. The truly impressive looking cover of this EP was illustrated by Jim Lawson, a prominent cartoonist most known for his work in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics. In short, check the Tacachale Chamber Orchestra website out, experience this “group”. It's weird, but in a good, entertaining way.
Because there is no detailed credits to speak of in terms of the creation of this album, it can be assumed that most of the instrumentation, vocals, and production was completed by Matthew Bert Goode. Considering this, “Ocean Floor Funeral” is an impressive and creative endeavor into the artistic expression of one particular individual. The tracks certainly have an innovative rawness to them, yet still attempt to follow song form and structure that listeners can identify with. The sound is vaguely reminiscent of something one may hear off The Beatles “Revolver” album, incorporating generous amounts of enveloping (trippy) synths and tape-effects, yet still paying respect to the fundamentals of musicianship, such as good vocal harmonies and rustic instrumentation. “Ocean Floor Funeral” also has a bit of an edge to it as well, which makes listeners lean toward the idea they are listening to a rock album. Tracks sometimes show case (among folksy mandolins and banjos) a heavily distorted electric guitar. Keep in mind that everything, from the vocals, to the guitars, to the synths, to the folk instruments, is absolutely drenched in reverb, echo, and who knows what else. The washed out, distorted effect present in many of these tracks reminds me of an indie-esque alternative rock group called “Surfer Blood” that also uses generous amounts of reverb to create encompassing qualities. The best part of this EP is the middle, the harmonies throughout “What's Your Home” provide a warm and creative anchor to the rest of the track, which is kept stark aside from small harmonica refrains. An interesting aspect to note about this EP is that Goode originally had drum tracks on most of the songs, but later took them out and replaced them with other, more unorthodox methods of movement. I found that it was creative moves like these that positively added to the overall uniqueness of “Ocean Floor Funeral”. Goode's voice, although drenched all sorts of effects and reverb, sounds quite pleasing. He sounds a bit like John Lennon, an element that further adds to the argument these songs could have been on an album like “Revolver”.
The effects at times are way too overbearing. There is so much going on in this album, too much. The Tacachale Chamber Orchestra's website states “they” draw influence from an electric host of music from the Beastie Boys, to Vivaldi, to composers from Mongolia. Yes, Mongolia. The point is, the way these songs were composed, written, and mixed leaves the listener feeling very disorientated and confused. Most of the time it was very hard to hear the vocals over whatever synth, buzzing, or feedbacking was going on. “Ocean Floor Funeral” feels like a weird acid trip with references to Genghis Khan amid really annoying burnt electric guitar and sonic assault from all angles. I appreciate and can understand the fact that the album was probably mixed the way that it is was on purpose, but for the average listener, “Ocean Floor Funeral” is artful to the point of intoxicating disorientation.
It is important to state that “Ocean Floor Funeral” certainly has many positives to it as a creative musical work. The harmonies sound great and the song structure offers something new and unique. On top of that, the vocals themselves, when you can actually hear them, sound very nice and Beatles-esque. However, the way the album is mixed and composed overall is aurally exhausting and overbearing. The Tacachale Chamber Orchestra, for lack of a better word, is the embodiment of “unique”. Judging by their internet presence and presentation, this “uniqueness” is probably what “they” (Goode) was going for. Overall, it was fun and interesting, even if a little eccentric.
Artist: Tacachale Chamber Orchestra
Album: Ocean Floor Funeral
Genre: Psychedelic Folk/Alternative Rock
Sounds Like: Revolver-era Beatles, Surfer Blood
Technical Grade: 5/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 5/10
Commercial Value: 5/10
Overall Talent Level: 7/10
Songwriting Skills: 7/10
Performance Skills: 7/10
Best Songs: What's Your Home, Don't Wake Me Up
Strengths: Unique band with interesting song structure ideas and instrumentation
Weaknesses: Album sounds muddled overall, effects can be overbearing/harsh