(Unday Records, released Fri 30 June 2017)
Tamino boasts the kind of multicultural background generally only heard of at backpacker hostel bars in distant corners of the world. An amateur songsmith with a yellow belt in acoustic guitar will butcher Country Roads or perhaps Wonderwall, until finally a ragtag bunch of tired students, new-age hippies and sad, middle-aged divorcees help carry the song’s lifeless corpse to an inglorious crescendo. Every now and then, however, someone comes along with a voice strong enough to make a just a man and a guitar sound like a full-blown orchestra.
Twenty-year-old Tamino is a Belgian-Egyptian based in Amsterdam and releases his self-titled debut EP via Unday Records, in what is a melancholy collection of tracks that are stripped down but never feel bare. The EP opens with his haunting single Habibi, where Tamino shows off his unique vocal talents with extended notes twisting and winding in traditional north African fashion over a haunting piano melody, at times exposing influences of Thom Yorke and perhaps even a lick of Morrissey.
Much like the Manchurian crooner, Tamino’s musical style is far from uplifting. His tunes are more suited as ambience to a horribly hungover Sunday or perhaps music to put on after having had your dog put down. Having said that, slow and moody music certainly has a time and a place and while each track is morose, they all contribute to a forlorn whole which is both intriguing and enjoyable.
One of the standout tracks is Cigar, which wouldn’t be out of place in a Hollywood film soundtrack as it sways slowly and prettily until it reaches its heavyweight chorus. The booming baritone here shows Tamino at his best, a truly gifted vocalist and lyricist who shines brightly in each song, but it’s on Cigar that he really exhibits experience beyond his age.
He currently seems to be playing exclusively in the Netherlands and Belgium, which is a shame seeing as how he sings almost entirely in English. Perhaps the prospect of Brexit has already led to a rapid decline in great British youth hostels. In any case, watch this space for more news on the ethnically diverse, vocally astounding youngster.