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A review of...

Prism Tats by Prism Tats

May 6, 2016
Adam Millard

Prism Tats is the solo project of Garrett van der Spek, a South African, brought up on British 70s rock, who has been soaking up US influences in Seattle and southern California over the past decade or so. After playing in bands in his early life, it was his discovery of Garage Band that perked his interest in making music on his own. Now van der Spek plays live as a one man band and this album was recorded entirely by him (and produced by Chris Woodhouse, who's also done work for Ty Segall amongst others). If you were to read all of these things without listening to the music you'd probably be expecting some lo-fi/DIY/scratchy/grungey thing, but this record sounds surprisingly polished. Perhaps that's a the results you're gonna get if you recording all of your parts separately, but still, Prism Tats has more in common with 80's pop-rock than with contemporaries like Segall.

The one man band shtick sounds like it's gained huge plaudits in its live incarnation, but on record it (oddly), seems to be quite limiting. I think that this is mainly due to his use of a drum machine, which seems to be programmed to "default" on most songs. This slightly unimaginative rhythm section does give the record something of a 1980s kick (van der Spek name-checks Prince, but I'm not sure I'd go that far), but those beats do get bit a grating after a while, almost as if you're listening to a demo tape, just with all the other instruments sounding pristine.

It's a good job then that van der Spek has some talent for writing a decent tune, skipping from almost no-wave on some songs to the popped up bliss of INXS on others. It's a hard sound to pin down, which is clearly a plus point. van der Spek has talked of touring this record with a proper band which I think could give these songs a much needed kick up the arse. A promising albeit, slightly flawed set of tunes.

Listen to

"Death Or Fame" - a slow burner, with some nice falsetto vocals and clever guitar licks.