Verdict: 3 / 5
Rock hero, Arno Carstens returns with his fourth solo album.
You may never forgive Arno for embracing ‘adult contemporary’ but ‘Atari Gala’ might help you on the road to forgiveness. While not a hard rock affair, the album has enough ‘alternative’ appeal to appease old Nudies fans. Barring the extreme side of the Nudies you can argue that ‘Atari Gala’ is an evenly balanced mix of The Springbok Nude Girls and Carstens’ solo work. These mostly mid to slow tempo songs have an abundance of memorable choruses, especially ‘No Ordinary Hero’; while ‘Graveyard of Memories’ is implanted with pleasing guitar licks and interesting lyrics, showing Arno is one of our better lyricists, something of a rarity or oddity within local music.
‘Invaders’ might be the best song on the album, a slow, well crafted tune; here Arno shows the younger muso’s how song writing is done. The illuminating, ‘Road to Enlightenment’ is surprisingly captivating, sounding indigenous at times, due to the local sounding guitar style, the violin is quite a pleasant addition as well. The track that harks back most to the Nudies has to be ‘One Law’. Arno’s quirky and distinctive vocal embellishments, so synonymous with the Nude Girls can be heard clearly on this up tempo rocker.
The album is noteworthy but needed more incisive and adventurous compositions to break it free from its middle of the road feel. Despite this last assessment Arno manages to bring much needed credibility to local pop and rock music.