Marcus Miller
Tales


4.5
superb

Review

by Matt Conrad USER (25 Reviews)
August 22nd, 2006 | 6 replies


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist


One of the aspects of music that I enjoy the most is mood. If a particular track or album can compliment the mood of the moment for me, chances are I will look at it in a positive light. More specifically, I love music that I can just relax to and unwind with. Some drums slightly bopping along to a groovy bass line, some light guitar playing a cool lead lick, and a nice layer of ambience is my perfect recipe for a quiet Saturday afternoon, just sitting on my front porch, watching the clouds roll along the horizon whilst the miles upon miles of forest green stretch before me. A sliver of blue lake water clashing with the wooded area summarize my entire disposition as the ambience track clashes with the bass to create a truly epic feeling. A three-minute slice of nirvana enamors me. No singular album creates these feelings within me quite like Marcus Miller's 1995 record Tales.

Multi-instrumentalist Miller is a well-known staple within the jazz and blues communities. Best known as the bassist for Miles Davis and David Sanborn, he is a clarinet player, keyboardist, saxophone player, guitarist, and vocalist. Many of these facets are seen on Tales. Most impressive are the many groovy, almost dance-along bass lines. The opening track, "The Blues" is a great example. A short sample of a man singing the word 'everybody' looped over some sweet saxophone, coupled with a very nice bass groove and an effect-laden guitar line creates a spectacle of sound.

What makes this album so enjoyable is the cohesiveness of the instruments. There is not one singular part which does not seem out-of-place. The effects on the instruments (prominently on the bass and the guitar) are numerous, but the never detract from the other players. Rather, they enhance the entire experience as a whole. Generally, vocal samples tend to annoy even the most tolerant listener, myself included. Hip-hop artist Q-Tip, who has been featured on 'Chappelle's Show' contributes many of these samples, and they are never interfere with the track.

Tales feels almost personal in its approach to the individual tracks. The titular song has the impression of a jazz jam session, the context of a very private experience with the musicians themselves. It is almost as if, upon listening to the album, that you are being treated to an exclusive performance in a hip jazz joint where every neon light is blue and everybody is wearing sunglasses.

The instrumentation does not disappoint in the least. Marcus' lines and vocals on the song 'Rush Over' show a terrific degree of musicianship and know-how when it comes to producing a great song. The back-up vocalists on said track beautifully illustrate, with mere voice, an intense love for another. They simply must rush over and be with them that instant. The sax sympathizes, playing a mellow tune while subdued guitar conforms to the temper. As well, the interlude 'Running Through My Dreams perfectly displays Miller's talents on the ol' four-string.

Maybe it’s because I have a deep affinity for '90s rhythm and blues, but the track 'Forevermore' appeals to me instantly. The heavy use of ambience in the intro along with another terrific bass part give off a very laid-back feel. It gets better later in the track, as the drums kick in and the entire ensemble just starts to exude cool. The cymbals are especially delicious, perfectly permeating the fog given off by the bass and keyboards. My favorite track, 'True Geminis' gives off the same vibe, but the keyboards take special prominence. The bass, at first, confused me. I truly thought that it was a sort of horn, that is until the horns showed up a minute and a half into the track.

Perhaps most impressive is the final track on the album, 'Come Together.' Yes, you’ve got it right: this is a Beatles cover. It is also one of the more interesting, far more so than the Aerosmith one (although that is a cool one). Beginning with a child scat-singing, the track takes off as some scratches and horns accentuate Marcus Miller's handling of the vocal track, but using his bass. This is the best part, because it makes singing along to the up-tempo chorus that much more fun.

It has been established that Marcus Miller knows how to create a song, and not only that, but how to create one with near-universal appeal. The simple cohesiveness of the instruments, the production value, the polished nature of each track, and the timing of the use of the instruments are nothing short of excellent. I would recommend this for fans of '90s hip-hop, relaxing jazz, and R&B. And, if like me, you're a newcomer to the genre, Marcus will gladly welcome you into the club, provided that you’ve brought the requisite sunglasses.

THE GOOD:
The instrumentation.
The tracks are very cohesive and thought-out.
VERY easy to chill-out to.

THE BAD:
The feel of the album won’t appeal to some.

THE RATING:
4.5/5



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Syncratic
August 22nd 2006


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Man I love this album....

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
August 22nd 2006


2806 Comments


Noooo you ended my domination of the jazz section. I had 6 straight with no contenders . Oh well, good review.

Syncratic
August 22nd 2006


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This was one of three albums I recommended for the Random Review game, and the second one I reviewed.

Sorry to end your reign, but this album's too sweet to pass up.

Syncratic
August 22nd 2006


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Holy hell, this is my third review in as many days....and I feel like starting another one! I might just crash at the computer for being so tired.

"Freshly Baked"
August 22nd 2006


583 Comments


Goddamn, my forced listening project went to hell, I could've sworn i emailed everyone their choices, whatever. I suck. sry Syn.

oh yeh, good review (puts towel over face)

Syncratic
August 22nd 2006


756 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

No need to apologize, you meant well.

I think I'll start a Dillinger Escape Plan review here shortly.



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