Album Review: Marcus Gad meets Tamal - Brave New World
by Gardy Stein
Ever since the dream team of Marcus Gad and Clement Thouard aka Tamal released their utterly enchanting EP Enter A Space, I was wishing for them to unfold their magic on album-length one day. Obviously, some dreams do come true, and thanks to the ever-open eyes and ears of Easy Star Records, we are now blessed with their second collaborative oeuvre called Brave New World, of which Marcus says in the press release that it "refers to this new space we’ve now entered, the world we continuously try to create in our music."
Taking shape between rural Southern France, Marocco and Tamal's studio in Paris, the album both reflects the difficult months of lockdown and international crisis and confirms our ability to withstand and overcome such challenges - as long as we stay connected. Connection, healing and pure sonic beatitude is what the 12 novel pieces provide, each single one of them leading you into a different realm of the Tamal-Gad universe. Ready?
Brave New World, the first and title track, is a masterpiece already (and that holds true for the black-and-white video by the talented Damalistik, too). Spherical keyboards and a percussive rhythm set the pace for the singer, who comes in strong with the hook-line, a heavy bass joining him and dominating the instrumental further on. A special fascination hold the almost hidden Reggae skanks and bubbles, the discovery of which is a sweet moment indeed. Lyrically, Marcus raises the question if inventions like nuclear radiation, microwaves, facial recognition or excess use of antibiotics really are in the best interest of mankind; instead of letting all these wash over you, he suggests to live by the laws of nature, silence and soul. "Some a never feel, some a never see - Oh father, show them mercy!"
Continuing the fervent plea for a fundamental rethink of global politics, Between The Lines focuses on the pressing matter of climate change to which the driving Hip Hop beat is a perfect fit. And altough the whole song deserves transcription (make sure you listen keenly!), suffice it to quote this: "Treat your fellow right and your family well, we're together in a fight and we must live to tell. Whatever the dollar, we are stronger than them, whatever the media we outnumber them, whatever the reign, JahJah still above them!"
Up next, the defiant Sunshine breathes fire. For one, in a literal sense in the nocturnal video (shot by Hood.mov), but also metaphorically in its calm but heavy instrumental and the mind-blowing teachings Marcus shares. His unique way of pronouncing words and phrases and flowing on the beat is simply captivating and might explain in part why so many people from all corners of the earth are drawn to his music.
"Up in fire and flames" is a picture evoked in the subsequent Break The Spell as well, another revolutionary song that implores us to look behind the pervasive facade of mass media and political narratives. Yes, this album is more intense, more of a call-to-action than its calmer, meditative predecessor, but in times like these prophets and singers must be forthright and outspoken to be heard!
"All of the young, all of the old, all of my sons, all of my moons, all of my healers, all of my builders, all of my dancers and all of my singers, all of my givers and all of my keepers..." Callin I Tribe is a rallying call for all like-minded people, people who embrace the mind-over-matter principle like Gad himself does. Again, it's his vocal brilliance coupled with the intensity of the music which make the piece extraordinary, irresistible in a way, and it becomes obvious that Tamal's genius lies in marrying traditional Reggae off-beats with an array of unexpected, special flavors. Here, the peculiar metronomic rasping, howling winds and the ethereal chorus in the background set exciting highlights.
Halfway through the album, we arrive at a more introspective section, which is said to have healing properties because of being tuned in 432hz. This can be felt in the reassuring One Day, its low-pitched bubbling and relaxed synthies carrying you away, as well as in the hope-inducing From The Ashes, telling us to rise and "recover from your lashes". No other song, however, will center you as strongly and thoroughly as Look Around. I can't really put in words what this track does, but the combination of trickling water, a carefully orchestrated soundscape and, above all, Marcus' hypnotic, soothing voice let you fall into a meditative state of mind from which you are released all too soon... just to press play again. And again. How about an extended mix of this one?
Addressing the old and the young alike, both Treasure and Young One hold important messages as well. While the former speaks of ancient wisdom and teachers to be found in unforeseen places like mould ("Down in the furnace of the ego life topple over like domino…."), the latter is explicitly "a song unto the youth, unto all my seekers of truth" and tells them to "trust in yourself" and "shine like a star". Composed on a deep Blues riddim, it adds to the diversity of the release, featuring a fantastic Franck Paulin on the organ (which in turn means that ALL OTHER instruments are played by Tamal!).
Now, while all previously discussed tracks are amazing pieces of audio art, Tempo deserves special mention because it is... well… I guess it's Brave New World in a nutshell. At the same time dynamic and laid-back, dance-inducing and meditative, modern and ancient, it combines urban beats with traditional instruments, in this case a Moroccan loutar played by Gad himself, who says: "Tempo is an invitation to travel in a timeless land. An open calling to walk in rhythm on the path of discovery. The lyrics to the song naturally flowed from the bustling memories of colours and smells brought back from my travels, and thus I returned to film this beautiful story in the song." Directed by Hood.mov once more, the video makes you want to pack up and leave to that place instantly. Round and around di planet we a go!
The album closes with the thoughtful Careful What You Wish For, and although this warning might be true in many cases, the wish for "more of this" will waft through my heart and mind from now on. With Brave New World, Marcus Gad and Tamal have given the world another highly appreciated piece of their musical souls, combining their God-given talents to create something truly stunning, impressive, magical. To those who haven't heard of these artists before: make sure you listen to this. To those who are fans already: see you soon in front of the stage!
The appreciation humbly expressed in this review, by the way, is echoed from voices around the world, as some of the comments under the music videos show:
Aaron (Baltimore): "Your music is my escape and brings me back to an inner peace and humbleness that is needed to survive and surthrive this city. Thank you:"
Quique (Canada): "Your music is the best balm for the soul. In these days of repression your music is the light in the darkness."
Lina (Antwerp): "Thank you for healing our soul through your divine music and amazing sound."
Martin (Brussels): "Everytime i choose some Marcus vibe for mi soul, i feel connected, gifted, a'd the goosebump makes me surrender totally to this music."
Leonardo (Colombia): "Gracias por mostrarnos esos paisajes y formas de vida! Que ganas de ir esos lugares a conocer! Que sigas haciendo musica por mucho tiempo."
Nelson (Africa): "Je me réveil avec ce son la journée va être royal.. Big respect!"
Marcus Gad meets Tamal - Brave New World
DIGITAL RELEASE / VINYL [Easy Star Records]
Release date: 11/05/2021
01. Brave New World
02. Between The Lines
04. Break The Spell
06. Callin I Tribe
07. One Day
09. Look Around
10. Young One
11. From The Ashes
12. Careful What You Wish For