Tarcutta are a Melbourne based trio who offer a new spin on the instrumental rock group by bringing the organ centre stage. Imagine if the Dirty Three grew sick of Warren Ellis’s unruly facial hair and decided to hire Keith Emerson instead. It’s a fairly original concept, or at least one that has lain unexplored for several decades. The problem is that the organ has never really worked for me when given the limelight in a rock setting. Van Der Graaf Generator tempered it with reed instruments and, of course, Peter Hammill’s brilliant melodramas. But the likes of the Nice, Atomic Rooster and ELP were all surface and very little substance. The organ doesn’t really lend itself to emotional subtleties, but comes across as brash and flash.
Throughout the 45 minutes of Tarcutta’s debut album, the organ hogs attention, with only brief spells when it allows someone else a little space. It results in a pretty wearing listen. That’s not to say that the music is without variation or intelligence. That’s far from the case. Indeed, the pieces that work best are the more subtle and contemplative ones like “Mount Bartle Frere” and “Cicada Cycle”. “No Light No Shade” introduces a female vocal, but ends in a tedious display of pyrotechnics. The closer “Flaghags Must Die” ends proceedings with an agreeably punky thrash. At its worst, such as on the dreadful “Liberace Fibonacci”, things descend into a horrible, bombastic rehash of progressive rock c. 1970.
Generally reactions have been favourable, so maybe I’m missing something.
1 Mount Bartle Frere 7:32
2 Liberace Fibonacci 4:59
3 You Gotta Crawl Before You Walk Before You Waltz 6:07
4 Cicada Cycle 7:45
5 No Light No Shade 7:11
6 Glassed 3:38
7 Evan and Luna Take on the Coca-Cola Teenqueens Conspiracy and Kick Its Arse 5:43
8 Flaghags Must Die 2:28