It would be an understatement to say that Soul Music and House Music have not always peacefully coexisted. To many Soul purists, House (like Disco before it) was like a musical one-night stand. It often tried to capture specific pleasurable elements of Soul but ended up gutting much of the emotional element that Soul brings -- you could dance to it, but you didn't feel it inside. And it didn't help that much of House was overtly mechanical and lyrically vacuous, removing the human and spiritual elements that were at the heart of Soul.
Into this mix Tortured Soul came into being in the early part of this decade. Dance fans were already familiar with lead singer Christian Urich, one of the driving forces behind Soul/Dance favorites, Cooly's Hot Box. But even more intriguing was the premise behind Tortured Soul: Live House Music. With Urich on drums and vocals, Ethan White on keyboards Jason Kriveloff on bass, Tortured Soul's goal was to bring additional Jazz and Soul elements to House (hence, the appropriate group name), and to move the genre beyond the mechanistic and into a more interesting and listenable blend.
Make no mistake, Tortured Soul's music is directly aimed at the dance floor, and that's okay. More importantly, though, through its two releases and its nearly ceaseless touring, TS has pulled off the impressive feet of making music that's engaging outside of the club. And that's all about Urich's soulful voice, their consistent sense of melody, and the fine playing by the trio -- featuring uber-danceable beats but with jazzy touches here and there.
Radio programmers have found them tough to classify and their audiences cover a broad demographic, but in a short period of time, the members of Tortured Soul have established themselves as a force in dance music around the world and a young band to watch.
By Chris Rizik