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Tarmat - Out of the Blue

Tarmat
Out of the Blue
by Chris Hicklin at 10 January 2022, 1:09 PM

This one is a strange one, if I had to pigeon-hole the Brazilian act TARMAT and their debut recording, I might simply have to refuse. They straddle a line they seem to have completely invented, between Easy-Listening, Jazz, Shoe-Gazing Indie, and Hard Rock. Yes, you did just read that right. Self-described as AOR, after the first song you need to get half-way through the album before reaching anything else I would comfortably even describe as guitar-based Rock. Still, the album is as engaging as it is confusing, as much a vibrant success as a grand failure.

Opening with a cheesy synth set-up, “Backbone Feeling” is a throwback to 80s hair rock ballads, the guitar riff seems like an after-thought to the synth and bass driven sound, Alexandre Daumerie’s vocals are very clean with no hint of grit or gravel and the composition is quite sparse with a few moments feeling unnaturally empty, it borders on awkwardness. Title track “Out of the Blue” has a bit of the same identity, but the Fender Rhodes throughout gives this a more Easy-Listening feel, and guitarist Eduardo Marcolino begins to expand his skills a little more with a short but showy solo. All pretention at being an 80s style rock ballad goes out of the window with the mournful TINDERSTICKS style trumpets that feed into the song as it progresses.

Moving Backwards” blends a soulful vocal performance that honestly reminds me of George Michael in places, with some chiming jazz influenced chord sequences and similarly jazzy noodling on the guitar. Eduardo Marcolino continues to demonstrate his diversity with a very Brian May influenced opening solo on “Gibberish”, while the body of the song comes off as a strange blend of BEACH BOYS style backing vocal harmonies with SANTANA sounding guitars, but these give way to clean Rockabilly style guitar playing that reminds me of CHRIS ISAAC, this one is an odd one to say the least but highly creative.

Rosetta Stone” is really the first song I would describe as a straight-ahead Rock track with no pretentions of being anything else, it’s a fine piece of song writing with a restrained but perfectly placed guitar solo and a chorus you can really get into. “More Than Less” is back to being a little odd, and the soloing guitars are sounding a lot like Brian May again, even if the song sounds more like Morrissey than QUEEN.

Penultimate track “Dinner's on The House” has a piano led verse that sounds like it might break into a “Walking In Memphis” style chorus, although ultimately it remains far more self-control than that, it’s timeless song writing however, that a writer like Billy Joel would be proud of. Finishing with a melancholically sung, finger picked guitar piece that reminds of “Love of My Life” by QUEEN, “The Knight” is an unsurprisingly eccentric end to an enigma of an album.

I feel one thing that did not completely gel with me is the way this album was recorded; the band makes a point in their literature of how the album was recorded during lockdown with everybody working remotely from their own home studios. This feeling of distance is evident at times as it feels in places as though nobody is quite on the same page, as though that vital life that comes from bouncing ideas off your bandmates has been ripped away from musicians that might otherwise be used to working that way and the ideas now exist in a vacuum. There is enormous diversity in the writing and the performing of the work, clearly all involved have a wide palette, broad influences and experience are very apparent, but there is a spark missing in places that I feel could probably be found quite easily if recorded more traditionally. This is a minor point in the larger context of the LP though, which is superbly creative and eclectic.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Backbone Feeling
2. Out of The Blue
3. Moving Backwards
4. Gibberish
5. Rosetta Stone
6. More Than Less
7. Dinner's on The House
8. The Knight
Lineup:
Alexandre Daumerie - Vocals
Eduardo Marcolino - Guitar
Gabriel Aquino - Keyboards
José Marcus – Bass
Record Label: Independent
     


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