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Tautologic in the press:"Like a lot of neo-prog bands, Marillion chief among them, modern progressive rockers Tautologic could do with a lot more grit in their sound: The Chicago band's first-wave heroes Genesis may have been intricate, ethereal and wispy, but they were never dainty or fragile. That minor quibble aside, the group's second album "Psychle," released in 2007 but only recently denting my radar, is an impressively ambitious example of virtuosic musicianship and deft arrangements navigating myriad sounds and styles without ever losing that essential melodic thread or propulsive rock drive.
Formed in 1997 by key songwriter, guitarist, vocalist and driving force Ethan Sellers and currently completed by drummer Pat Buzby, guitarist Aaron Weistrop, bassist Nathan Britsch, saxophonist Chris Greene and violinist Emily Albright, Tautologic is all the more relevant for lyrics that deal not with lamia, slippermen, tales from topographic oceans and the other stuff or progressive-rock lore, but with Ray Davies-style sociological skewerings of 'burnout roommates and their psychotic crack-whore girlfriends, tube socks, crazy homeless people, indie hipsters, quasi-terroristic rants against totalitarian utility companies and anything else that entertains and/or irritates.'"
-Jim DeRogatis from Chicago Sun Times and NPR's Sound Opinions
"And you thought Chicago was all blues, jazz and working class rock? How about this Zappa inspired date about all the screw balls that live in Obama’s old neighborhood? For those that like it on the Lou Reed side with wildly progressive edges he’d have never touched on, a new time zone can be built right here. Crazy stuff for when you need something over the top with real professional underpinnings."
"Catchy, quirky Zappa-styled Prog. Hailing out of Chicago, Tautologic take their name from the word tautology which is an argument which repeats an assertion using different phrasing. And just to be sure you get their brand of satiric sense of the band they’ve called their new album the punning Re:Psychle. Once you get past all of this intriguing set up you are in for a treat. There is some really engaging music displayed here over ten compositions that come in at a vinyl sized forty-two minutes. With the first track, you might be forgiven for thinking you just started listening to an old Kansas song until it suddenly shifts gears into a quirky, off-kilter tone and starts singing about loud shoes! This is a set of tunes that is rich with Frank Zappa’s influence. It comes through a lot in the lyrical bent but also in the singing, the instrumentation and often the rhythmic counterpoint. On that last point though, in amongst all the herky, jerky musical elements there is much to recommend here to symphonic prog fans as virtually all of these songs feature tried and true proggy embellishments with grand ascending lines that twist and turn their way through crafty melodies. Each song, and most of them are in the three or four minute range is infused with elements of minor notes and suspended or diminished chords that emphasize an overall strangeness at times but then usually resolves into other more pleasing majors. What I really liked about Tautologic’s writing style is how they manage to incorporate the contrasts without going too far either way. This is not a “normal” prog band and yet everything about them should appeal to prog-heads. Hints of Chamber Prog slapped up against traditional Symphonic prog elements sounds like a winner to me. I’m giving Re:Psychle a big thumbs up. Check it out."
"18 years after their debut, Chicago band Tautologic is putting out Re:Psychle. As the album title suggests, Tautologic is not a band that takes itself seriously. There is certainly some humour in their lyrics and the mood is clearly festive. This does not mean that their playing is not taken seriously though. The musicians involved are all excellent and the performances faultless.
"Formed in 1997 in Chicago, Tautologic just released its second album, eighteen years after West Is North, East Is South (2000). Although related to prog, if only by the variety of styles discussed, their music has little to do with the 70's classics like Yes or Genesis nor with the neo-prog of Marillion et al. On the other hand, there is the energy and psychedelics of some pop-rock bands of the late 1960s, associated with folk-rock as practiced at the time by groups like Fairport Convention, Strawbs or Trees.
"Multi-layered and uninhibited Re:Psychle. While Tautologic’s sound is grounded in progressive rock, the lyrics are idiosyncratic and sarcastic, similar in spirit to Frank Zappa’s work and the Canterbury bands. The band is led by multi-instrumentalist Ethan Sellers who delivers superb keyboard work throughout the album. What’s refreshing about Re:Psychle is the fact that Sellers stays true to the progressive music spirit by combining state of the art classic progressive rock with chamber music elements, jazz and other influences such as funk and even unexpected Afrobeat-style brass on one song. […] Sellers collaborates with a remarkable cast of musicians. Guitarist Aaron Weistrop showcases his talent as an instrumentalist who extracts top notch guitar sounds and avoids tired hard and heavy metal riffing. Weistrop also provides captivating interplay with violinist Jeff Yang. […] Re:Psychle is a finely crafted prog rock album that combines meaningful, uninhibited lyrics and first class musicianship."
"This buoyant album opens with the sea shantyesque 'Loud Shoes', before being followed by the '80s pop funk feel of 'Not If But When'. The austere lullaby 'The Admiral' is next and is backed by both the the buzzing sounds (literally) of 'The Professor', and then the upbeat, party central horns of 'On Your Left.'
The glorious piano work found on 'The Choirboy' is wonderful to behold, and makes this track a true stand out for me. That's followed by the frenetic mish-mash that melds into the more low-fi bounce storytelling of 'Coltrane Supermarket.'
Another sea shantyesque cut is the storytelling of 'The Whistler', and that's backed by the late night jazz appeal of 'The Gospel Lady', before the album rounds out with the hectic sounds of Chicago giving way to the more serene quietness found within 'Osaka Garden'…"
"Hey, Fearless fans, there's a new hip and happenin' place in Chicago for
live musical entertainment! Reggie's Music Club is the place to go for
good eats and cool music. It was a packed house Saturday night. This
evening Southside came out to hear her favorite ambient folk rock band,
otherwise known as Tautologic. This band rocked the audience with their
unique blend of music genres and their electric violin accompaniment. For
this performance they added something new to enhance their opening set. On
a backdrop screen behind the band, movie shorts played throughout the set
in order to give the audience a deeper feel for the tone of the songs.
"The first band to kick off this caravan show instantly won this
reviewer's heart, Fearless fans. It was sweet heavenly acoustic music
with a wee bit of rock that you could dance an Irish jig to. Tautologic
impressed SouthSide with their mesh of unique sounds that really didn't
seem to belong together, but Tautologic proved they could. Their amazing
music had her rockin'. Violin and acoustic guitar offset the bass and
electric to create one incredible sound that would certainly liven up any
pub around town especially an Irish one). This Fearless reviewer totally
fell in love with their acoustic/folk rock which has recently exploded
once again in the music scene around Chicago. Tautologic's instrumental
songs, as well as their lyrical ones, had some in the audience dancing a
silly jig while rocking along with the band. Though the sax member of the
band wasn't in attendance, this band was scheduled to perform again the
night following at the House of Blues, this time with their full ensemble.
It was a definitely a welcome change of pace for SouthSide's ears and she
enjoyed every minute of their set. During the middle of a couple of
songs, there was a taste of the Emerald Isle from the acoustic and violin.
Then combine the electric and bass, the audience's ears were blown away by
this lively folk performance. Tautologic's music rocked Subterranean down
and SouthSide highly recommends that Fearless fans catch their next show.
Check out more info about Tautologic and their music at www.tautologic.com
"... miraculous progressive pop....
Immortal and visionary."
"Occasionally experimentation with new
reveals a hidden gem. Tautologic is one such case in point, where each
and every track has had me completely blown away... music can be best
defined as eclectic progressive rock with a healthy dose of folk rock
with the group described as a cross between early Genesis, early Fairport
Convention and a healthy dose of Stackridge. Basically the group sound
very very British though they hail from Chicago, very late sixties stuff....
When considering that this is a debut album, the promise is great. Musically
Tautologic have a lot to offer and are an extremely tight professional
"Tautologic brings a new twist to orchestral pop, melding a wide variety of musical styles with
classical arrangements. Ethan Sellers sings in a Styx-like, operatic voice about everyday occurrences and topics, while
a mini orchestra peppers each song with intriguing and often lovely, violins, cello, and keyboards. For
example, on the folksy "Jim's Home Brew," he sings about his friend's beer recipe, while Jen Justice's
pretty backing vocals, catchy piano, and charming strings flow throughout. The band also
tackles psychedelica ("Hype Dark"), Celtic ("Glasgow Smile"), funk ("Love Bus"), space rock ("Tube
Socks"), and classical pop ("Lazy Sundays," my favorite track), while Justice contributes gorgeous lead vocals to
"The House Song." It sounds strange on paper, but the results satisfy more often than not.
Thanks to Sellers's and Pat Buzby's songwriting talents and string arrangements, this debut is
an impressive, if slightly twisted, modern-day "rock" opera."
"There are not many heirs to Gentle Giant. This American band (a duo!) is
paradoxically very close to the very British outfit... the music is more
pop oriented by the format, often in the way of the Beatles ('Eleanor
Rigby') or chamber music influenced... A great debut..."
"With its tightly scripted string arrangements and ambitious intelligence,
Tautologic... is among the city's most original acts. This brilliantly
sequenced, $15,000 independent album opens playfully and ominously with a
complicated instrumental bit of modern orchestral dissonance, which then
gives way to Sgt. Pepperesque, psychedelic Beatleism... The melodies have
a distinctly traditional folk feeling, shaped by the apt use of classic
meters (these guys have obviously been successfully exposed to the Great
Books at University of Chicago)."
"A 'tautology' is defined as needless repetition of an idea in different words, which points to this very interesting band's wryly self-effacing sense of humor. Consisting of Ethan Sellers on vocals, keyboards, and guitar, and Pat Buzby on drums and keyboards, the duo is assisted by a variety of other musicians, most often a small string section.
As if to illustrate the disorientation of the album's title, they open with a string trio figure that eventually widens and falls apart - classical space music? 'Hype Dark' follows, with a great chorus, plus harmonies and voice processing reminiscent of the United States of America.
The strings expand to a quartet for the charging 'Glasgow Smile,'and
viola player Jen Justice vocally backdrops another great set of chord
changes on 'Jim's Home Brew.' The Beatles-esque sense of invention on
'Lazy Sundays' extends to the general spirit of this album, which often is
redolent of late-1960s underground radio... overall, this is a very
"It's a roaring fire and two glasses of wine type sound, though not
limited to such intimacies. Tautologic can hold their own with Chicago's
best, as evident at their album debut at Elbo Room in June."
"Tautologic: On its debut CD, West is North, East is South, the
ambitious Chicago trio offers modernist compositions for strings,
pastiches of Beatles psychedelia, Celtic rock and the kitchen sink.
Friday, May 19, Tasting Room."
"Serving up a prog-influenced mixture of rock and classical music, with
some worldly jazz thrown in for variety, Tautologic has the unusual lyrics
to match its unpredictable sound."
"With their eclectic images and down-to-earth metaphors ("Are all humans
like white tube socks?"), Hyde Park band Tautologic's music is somewhere
between Shakespearean poetry and punk rock."
"From lyrics about race relations in Hyde Park to a Hyde Park bus where
the driver says 'Welcome to the love bus,' there is always a Hyde Park
component to this music... While the new compilation of songs from 'Hype
Dark' to 'Love Bus' can be quite artsy at times with a pop-music-feel
chiming in through cello and violin, any Hyde Parker can easily understand
the inspiration to these songs."
-The Isthmus 7/21/2000 "Critics' Choice"
Except as otherwise noted, all material on this website is copyright 2014 Tautologic. Album artwork by Ethan Sellers.