Artnat - The Mirror Effect - 2021
“ ... a new band with a rich history ... ”
The Portuguese band Artnat is not only a "new" band but also a band with a rich history. Confused? Well just let the mirror effect do its work. "The Mirror Effect" is the title of the debut album of Artnat. But if you mirror the name of the band you will get the name Tantra. For those who don't know, here is an excerpt of my review of the Tantra album "Terra".
"Tantra is a band from Portugal that made three albums in the years 1978 – 1981. Two of them have now CD releases on Musea, “Mistérios e maravilhas” (1978) and “Holocausto” (1979). The third one “Humanoid flesh” only exists in LP format and was released by EMI. After touring successfully but receiving bad press reviews because of singing in English and not in Portuguese on their third album the band decided to “suspend its existence”. After finding an old Revox tape of the first Tantra concert out of 1977 and working on this for a CD release, Manuel Cardoso fell in love again with the musical concept of Tantra and asked the old band members if they were interested in reforming the band. But nobody could make it so Manuel decided to search for other musicians to form a new Tantra with the same musical spirit. The band which was born, rehearsed every weekend for 8 to 12 hours in the years 1998 – 2000! But the band had no easy path to follow which eventually led to their first CD in this line-up. And it would cost almost two years before they had finally recorded this album. “Terra” is an independent release with modern and intriguing 3D artwork (Metacool) and the second booklet in English with information and the translations of their lyrics. I am very happy with this initiative. If a band can do this with an independent release why can’t record companies do the same? I can’t remember anymore when I rewarded an album with five points. But I must simply do this because the band deserves this. With their intelligent, highly original, progressive, and emotional music the band just blew me away."
The above is the introduction to my review of the Tantra album "Terra" which was published in 2003. Two years later progVisions published the review of its successor "Delerium". And then it became quiet around Manuel Cardoso's Tantra.So it is with great pleasure that I can inform you that founder Manuel Cardoso and the synthesizer maestro Guilherme Da Luz from the albums "Terra" and "Delirium decided to breathe new life into the music of Tantra. But now with a contemporary approach and a new name. So the second reincarnation of Tantra is the band Artnat, a new band with a rich history.
Manuel Cardoso – guitars & vocals; Guilherme da Luz – synthesizers and percussion; Sara Freitas - vocals; João Samora - drums and percussion; Paulo Bretão - basses; André Hencleeday - keyboards
The album consists out of eleven tracks and 3 bonus tracks (jams). Also worth mentioning is the fact that the first four tracks with even track numbers originated from jam sessions. "The Mirror Effect" opens with a track called "Riding The Edge of Darkness". Tantra fans will immediately recognize the guitar sound and unique style of composer Manuel Cardoso and the mysterious synth sounds of Guilherme Da Luz. Like in the music of Tantra we can hear strange rhythms and an often gloomy atmosphere. Another thing you will notice is that Artnat has in the person of Sara Freitas a female singer and believe it or not the band again embraces the English vocals. As you will know by now, this is not my preference. The Portuguese language would add some extra local atmosphere to the music. But of course, I can understand this choice. The second track "Eternal Dance of Love" opens with a fretless bass and mysterious synths before the first melodic guitar solo. Sara Freitas has a beautiful voice that has some resemblance to the voice of Kate Bush. This second track I like more because of the fact that there is more melody. The tension of the music is building up towards a kind of climax with nice keyboards and guitar parts, but the delicate bass is returning in the end. "Return to OM" is divided into the parts "Nirvana", "Return to OM" and "The Warrior". For me, this is the first highlight of the album. In "Nirvana" the music is becoming more complex and I would like to call it more Tantric ... I mean, more in the style of Tantra. But the music has a more contemporary prog style. "Return to OM" has more melody and nice vocal parts. Especially the latter part which is sung in the Portuguese language. In "The Warrior" (sung in English) singer Sara Freitas convinces me. We can also enjoy nice guitar work. The instrumental "From Chaos to Beauty", is a delicious jam that indeed starts with complexity and chaos but ends in beauty. For the first time, I hear a whiff of the overwhelming power that Tantra's music can have. "A View from Above" starts with typical Cardoso guitar work and has a lot of fine keyboard and synth parts. Two keyboard players in the band pay for themselves. Your reviewer is enjoying himself while writing this review. But on the other hand, I get the feeling that this is music for the open-minded prog lover. Listen for instance to the wonderful track "Cosmic Machinery". A typical Guilherme Da Luz, Manuel Cardoso battle (jam) which is drenched with complex synth and guitar work. Another highlight for me. Then it is time for the title track "The Mirror Effect". Singer Sara Freitas joins the band again with nice vocal parts. There is also a lot of percussion in the music of Artnat. If you take your time for this music it will reveal its beauty to you. "Celebration" opens with atmospheres of the jungle and develops into an uplifting song which also keeps its complexity. "The Dramatic Beauty of Life" also starts with sound samples from life (rain and a laughing child) and includes nice melodic synth and guitar parts on top of a fine rhythm section. All this accompanied by the wordless singing of Sara. Especially the guitar parts are showing also some influences of Jazz. "The Complex Art of Creation" opens with jazzy guitar and nice drumming. After this, the keyboards and synths attract our attention. But overall, the guitar of composer Manuel Cardoso plays an important role in the music of Artnat. This piece has the contrast of the complex rhythms and the beautiful melodic guitar work (the trademark of the music of Artnat/Tantra). This remarkable album ends with a short "Finale". As a bonus, you will get three jams; "Jam Chaos", "Jam Machinery" and "Jam Celebration". With those extra bonus tracks, you will get an insight into the origins of Artnat's complex music for this album.
Artnat is the second incarnation of the Portuguese band Tantra. A welcome surprise for me because I still treasure my collection of Tantra albums and especially the album "Terra" from 2003 which I gave a five points review because of the overwhelming beauty of that album. "The Mirror Effect" from Artnat is also a very good album full of complex progressive rock. Music for the open-minded music lover. You will have to take your time with this album because it only will reveal its beauty after several listening sessions.