Technology, we’re told, if it is sufficiently advanced, becomes like a kind of magic. To listen to the piece “That’s OK,” off the recent self-titled album by Tam, is to learn that if the electronics in music production are implemented simply enough, then they come to seem like the origin of some very basic form of life, a small organism slowly entering into existence. Basic doesn’t mean banal; it means rudimentary, in the best sense of the word.
That is the magic of Tam, a work of pop minimalism on the Variz label (variz.org). The opening of “That’s OK” (MP3) is mere heart beats, pulsing sounds that slowly repeat as they bounce like slow-motion superballs in a dayglo romper room — like heavily cushioned pinballs propelled by velvet-lined bumpers. In time, melodies become apparent, underplayed melodies (what, are you expecting Liberace here?) that have a lulling sensibility matched perfectly by the tones. It’s all musical insinuation and sonic embrace. (The track is one of four on the album, and was made available for free download as a promotion.)
Tam is JoÃ£o Santos, a Porto, Portugal-based musician who in the past has worked with LuÃs Espinheira as part of the duo TAMDMD. (Whether Espinheira now records as DMD, I cannot confirm.) More on Santos/TAM at variz.org.