Tarcutta: Tarcutta
Hidden Shoal

How to establish oneself as something different from the “instrumental rock” norm? One way is to lock all keyboards away except for Hammond organ and, to a lesser degree, piano, and that's exactly what Tarcutta (drummer Peter Barrett, guitarist Justin Buckley, and organist Justin Wheelahan) does on its forty-five-minute debut outing. That beautiful organ sound shimmers across much of the recording in a way that can't help but reawaken memories of classic ‘60s bands like The Doors and Procol Harum, but Tarcutta is no decrepit throwback. Named after Buckley's home town, a truckstop midway between Sydney and Melbourne, Tarcutta formed in late 2004 and has spent the five years since refining its sound. Recorded live at Melbourne's Head Gap studio by Casey Rice, the album finds the trio in top form, essaying the ebb and flow of aggressive and gentler passages with equal conviction and at no expense to the immediacy of the material's delivery.

The episodic opener “Mount Bartle Frere” moves with consummate ease between becalmed and uptempo passages before eventually settling into a lovely evocation near track's end. It's a template of sorts in that the group just as confidently maneuvers between styles and tempo changes in most of the other tracks; put simply, Tarcutta's eight pieces are anything but directionless jams but instead intricately-structured set-pieces the players navigate with palpable joy. “Liberace Fibonacci” rides abrupt tempo changes with suitable aplomb, with the Hammond organ leading the charge, while “Glassed” and (take a breath) “Evan and Luna Take On the Coca-Cola Teenqueens Conspiracy and Kick Its Arse” offer the closest things to straight-up ravers (the closing minutes of the latter are especially ferocious). And though the raucous riffage of the outro “Flaghags Must Die” may linger in memory, it's in the album's quieter passages where Tarcutta impresses most, a case in point the stately pace at which “No Light No Shade” unfolds (a brief but effective vocal turn by Jess Cornelius elevates the track too, as does its bluesy outro). The release clearly demonstrates that sixties' instrumentation doesn't have to mean sixties' music.

September 2009