WE REVIEW THE LATEST ALBUM FROM HELDER ROCK – TAMMY GIRL
Stockport solo artist Helder Rock’s sophomore album “Tammy Girl” is an eclectic, prog rock record that combines a nostalgic synth instrumentals with an experimental approach.
From a glance at the cover of “Tammy Girl” you’d expect furious electric guitars and some kind of macho death metal to come roaring out of your speakers, but Helder Rock proves you should never judge a record by its cover. With his electronic, multi-genre and deliciously smooth flowing prog rock sound “Tammy Girl” is in his words a concept album telling the story of a long-distance relationship.
Inspired by many different genres and the use of electronic gadgets in music Helder Rock is a multi-instrumentalist himself playing the guitar, keyboards as well as a bowed two-string Chinese instrument called the erhu. His diverse approach to music shines through in “Tammy Girl”, with tracks on the album combining electronic, folk, rock and many other genres to form his own unique musical soundscape.
Beginning on a light-hearted note with the opener “Rain or Shine”, the cheerful and soothing synths that define the record set it off on a calming and optimistic start. The following number “Longing to Hold You” brings in soulful and blues influenced electric guitar reminiscent of a Hendrix track, following the same tranquil vibe.
Towards the middle of the album, the pace picks up and more full instrumentals and racing percussion is introduced, the title track is the most rock n’ roll moment on the album with cascading layers of synth, guitar, and towards the end even trumpets.
Helder Rock displays his creativity to the listener throughout his record with his choice of unexpected instruments and rhythmic twists and turns. Using a myriad of influences “Tammy Girl” is a vibrant and inclusive musical project.
One of the most unique tracks on the record is “Cherokee”, a celebration of the North American Indian people inspired by their traditional, tribal music. Using vocal chants and whimsical flute passages, this track pays wonderful homage to the indigenous population.
Despite its multifaceted and engaging ideas, unfortunately “Tammy Girl” is a record that at times fails to be as engaging as it should be due its length. Whilst there are many enchanting moments on the album, some of the tracks particularly towards the beginning drag on for too long or don’t bring enough new to the table.
Creating an album predominantly without vocals is always a challenge and leaves this record sounding bare in areas where the instrumentation becomes repetitive.
For example, the track “Somewhere in Ohio” which sounds simply like a continuation of the previous track or the nine minute long “Night Flight to the USA” which lacks the development to stay captivating for its entire runtime. Overall, the skill and creativity to backbone “Tammy Girl” are there, but Helder Rock’s soul and innovative ideas are at times unfortunately diminished by the length of the album and lack of finishing touches needed.