Tarot – “The Warrior’s Spell” (Ván Records)
Now there’s Australia, and then there’s Tasmania. If you thought the former was way down under, then Tassie may seem like ya heading back in time! Interesting then, that Tarot (not to be confused with their Finnish namesake) are made up of members from Hobart’s underground scene revolving around obscure bands like The Wizar’d and Dracula, with the members having even more mystical names like The Hermit (guitar, organ, synths, vocals), The Hierophant (bass), and The Magician (drums)!! If that wasn’t a trip in itself, then the style of music they play is early 70s prog hard rock along the lines of early Uriah Heep “Demons and Wizards” era, Jethro Tull, early Deep Purple and Wishbone Ash – which I guess people in Tasmania still listen to as good as it was back in the day! Well, that might very well be the case given the awesome musicianship that has gone into revitalizing this dinosaur style, especially bearing in mind that these aren’t covers we’re talking here, but originally penned material by what looks like relatively young guys so full marks and bunches of respect! Having been formed in 2011, after a demo and 3 cassette EPs were released on The Hermit’s own label Heavy Chains Records – probably to not much attention – sadly given his painstaking DIY approach to home recording, along have come cutting edge label Ván Records and secured this 14 track compilation which includes all those prior releases in a professional format. Complete with old style analogue production, Tarot have probably (re)produced songs probably unique to this day and age (even with some of those aforementioned bands still around!) and it’s pretty clear that this isn’t the sort of effort made necessarily for commercial gain in as much as it is for love of the genre and the music itself. From the bunches – and I mean bunches – of driving mellotron organs defining the music along with the melody churning guitars and high hippy-ish harmony vocals, prepare for epics like the proto metal ‘Life And Death’, the Deep Purple on speed ‘Take A Look Around’, the medieval warrior folk of ‘Dying Daze’ and not forgetting ‘Twilight Fortress’, whose mesmerizing trippy soundscape beauty could give Yes and Pink Floyd a run for their LSD! Humbly produced with heart and honesty, Tarot’s cool music more than deserves to be released as a stunning example of youthful underground talent.