ARTNAT – The Mirror Effect

Review by Erik Neuteboom

Posted 080321

 

The six-piece formation Artnat is founded by Manuel Cardoso who was leader of the known prog band Tantra, from Portugal, formed in 1976 and disbanded in 1981, after the albums Mistérios E Maravilhas (1977), Holocausto (1978) and Humanoid Flesh (1981). In 1998 Tantra was reformed and released the studio-albums Terra (2002) and Delirium, and the live CD Live Ritual (2003). And now Manuel Cardoso has founded Artnat “to give continuity to Tantra`s style of prog music , but with a personal 21st century touch”. In this new formation only Manuel Cardoso (guitars) and Gui da Luz (synthesizers) remain from Tantra`s re-union  line up. New members are: Sara Freitas (vocals), Paulo Bretão (basses), João Samora (Drums) and André Hencleeday (keyboards).

 

What an interesting genuine prog music, and what a challenge to review! Listening to this debut album 70s Yes comes to my mind (Howe and Squire sound, complexity, excellent musicians and awesome interplay) but Artnat delivers a more eclectic and quirky musical approach. The focus in the 11 elaborate and captivating compositions is on the fiery guitarwork and the high piched vocals. This is fuelled by a powerful and fluent rhythm-section, and embellished with inventive play on keyboards, from electric piano to synthesizers and Mellotron. This music deserves a lot of attention, because so much is happening: lots of dynamic atmospheres and shifting moods, with amazing soli (often on guitar) and interplay, and (often surprising) musical twists and turns, blending elements from 70s symphonic rock, jazzrock, psychedelia and experimental. Two tracks are intrumental (From Chaos To Beauty and Cosmic Machinery), emphasizing the huge skills of the musicians, and the eclectic sound, I am impressed. The female singer does a very good job, she has a wide range, from mellow and dreamy to powerful and theatrical, and she is also a perfect balance to the often complex and bombastic sound with her crystal clear, high pitched voice.

 

Prog to discover, far from mainstream, a bit quirky, but loaded with interesting and adventurous musical ideas.