Described as a “true one-man rock ‘n’ roll machine,” South African-born Garett van der Spek knew from an early age where his destiny lay. Weaned on a diet of Beatles, Bowie, Hendrix, Kinks and Sabbath – as well as African music – the Durban native later moved to Seattle before eventually settling in Los Angeles with his American wife, Laura.
Rebranding himself “Prism Tats,” the artist honed his craft performing as part of a garage rock trio who stopped playing together just as they were starting to build a local following. After moving to L.A., he began working on the 10 songs that make up his debut LP, using just vocals, a drum machine, guitar and programmed bass synth.
The reverb-laden opening track is “Pacifist Masochist.” It highlights van der Spek’s youthful energy and impressive vocal talents, while the manic “Creep Out” includes some powerful falsetto and has more of a punk vibe. The fuzzy warmth of “Never Been Shy” is then eclipsed by the emotive – if slightly overlong – “Death or Fame.”
Something of a departure from previous tracks, “Make the Most of the Weekend” is a chilled-out instrumental that would have fit right into the spaced-out ‘Madchester‘ scene of the late 1980s/early 1990s. “Weird Guilt” also has quite a ‘trippy’ feel to it and is another winner.
There is an atmospheric, early U2 feel to “Excess.” The singer/songwriter/producer even manages to sound a bit like Bono… “Haunt Me” is a jaunty number that also recalls the frenetic post-punk period of the early 1980s, though it lasts a bit too long. The final track is the reflective “Know It All,” a solid end to a fine product.
This ambitious and clearly very talented musician – a former construction worker in Seattle – shows a great deal of promise on his first full-length release and I fully expect further success and recognition to follow. He’s certainly worked hard enough for it.
Prism Tats’s debut album will be available to buy or download from April 15.