|Stevie Floyd and Ashley Spungin. Photo by Mary Spiro|
My astrological sign happens to be Taurus. It is also the astrological sign of the two members of the band Taurus: guitarist Stevie Floyd and drummer Ashley Spungin. Not that it means anything really, it just is what it is. I don’t really put much stock in astrology; it’s mostly a bunch of bull (pun intended) and should only be viewed as entertainment.
Sun signs aside, last Saturday, my husband (still getting used to saying that) and I made the annoyingly long trek to Empire (formerly Jaxx) in Springfield, Virginia to see Taurus. We were primarily there to see Agalloch, of course (more on that in another blog post), but I was curious about Taurus. I am always curious about two-piece bands. How do they make it sound like enough is going on for it to be anything?
Anyway, there are at least three bands out there called Taurus so it took a while to find the right one. Taurus has only been together a few months, but you may know guitarist Stevie Floyd from her work in another two-piece outfit called Dark Castle. There are many elements of Dark Castle in Taurus, only now the components are shaken down, concentrated and stuffed into a smoking pipe.
|Stevie Floyd of Taurus. Photo by Mary Spiro.|
Prior to the show, I had a chance to chat with the Aesop Dekker the drummer for Agalloch. He remarked how much fun they’d been having touring with Taurus and that I should find their set “terrifying.” The use of the word terrifying was not far off.
I knew Taurus would be something that had to be experienced live. I had listened to their recording on Bandcamp and found it somewhat confusing. What was going on here?
Once the band took the stage, I knew that any recording of this group was going to be a weak facsimile of the living, breathing entity that is a live Taurus performance. From the moment they started, I pretty much could not take my eyes off of them, especially Stevie, whose vocals emanated from some place deep inside of her, like a restless spirit trying desperately to strip off the last bloodied membranes of its mortal coil. Ashley’s relentless and unforgiving beats propelled the riffs unfurling from Stevie’s guitar into deadly streamers of doom that spiral down around you and encase you entirely. As they played, a strange film showing images of bleeding sliced pomegranates and exotic characters performing ritualistic actions flickered on the screen behind them.
Now all the music I had heard on the Bandcamp site made sense. The duo executed the recording note for note, beat for beat, including sampled sound clips between each passage. I made sure I picked up a copy of their hand-made EP before I left the club so that I would have something by which to refresh this sensation.
But I must emphasize: Taurus must be experienced live. Listening to the EP in isolation of the context of a performance might leave you feeling flat. Like listening to the soundtrack to a favorite Broadway musical, you will hear the notes and words but you don’t really get the full effect until you see the costumes, watch the movement of the actors and feel the drums beating against your chest.
Taurus definitely is not for everyone. But if you listen with open ears and an open mind to their experimental, doomy, sludgey riffs, you may be transported, body and soul, to another dimension without (or with, if you prefer) the use of chemical enhancements. I encourage you to watch a live Taurus performance. You may not love it; but you won’t avoid being affected by it.
With the understanding that the recording pales in comparison to the live performance, you can hear the EP Life by Taurus below.