Audio Mixer: Chris Woodhouse.
Prism Tats is the solo vehicle for South African-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Garett van der Spek. The project was born in Seattle, where van der Spek began developing a kind of one-man show, delivering melodic lyrical observations over tight punk riffage and a drum machine. A subsequent move to L.A. led to a connection with producer Chris Woodhouse (Ty Segall, Wild Flag, !!!), who helped hammer the ten songs on this debut into their final, streamlined shape. The recorded version of Prism Tats doesn't stray far from its minimalist stage show, still relying on drum machine rhythms and a brash guitar attack that is almost post-punk at times. No-frills synth bass fills out the bottom-end and occasional electronic lead parts are peppered here and there, but for the most part it's van der Spek's pervasive tenor and wry observations that take the spotlight. "Pacifist Masochist" sets the tone with a biting opening salvo of "I don't want to make art, I want to make money" over clanging guitar riffs and Theremin-like leads. The acerbic self-effacement continue on "Death or Fame," with its chorus of "Death or fame, whichever comes first, I don't mind, as long as it hurts." Los Angeles may be a long way from his hometown of Durban, South Africa, but van der Spek's take is certainly not that of a stranger in a strange land. Ironic commentary on the vacuousness of L.A. culture is practically an American pastime and has been handled with much more grace by beloved indie bard Father John Misty. Still, Prism Tats' barbed, electro-garage clamor has plenty of strong hooks to draw listeners into his world. ~ Timothy Monger