The Dawn of An Icon: Tamino’s “Sahar”

Tamino ushers in a new era with his sophomore album, “Sahar.” (Courtesy of Instagram)

Tamino ushers in a new era with his sophomore album, “Sahar.” (Courtesy of Instagram)

Lauren Lombardi, Assistant Culture Editor

After a two-year sabbatical from the outside world, last year Belgian-Egyptian singer-songwriter Tamino returned to Instagram on a beautiful winter day to throw a bone to his listeners with an artistic-as-ever photo of himself playing the guitar on the floor, the lighting just right. Months later, on Sept. 23, came the arrival of his sophomore album “Sahar.” 

Tamino first broke onto the scene a few years ago, giving audiences a taste of his storytelling ways with his first album “Amir.” What drew me in about Tamino was his poignant ever-specific style of writing. I can confidently say that there is not a single songwriter nowadays who is able to cough up words as beautifully as he does. He shows this off in his latest release by reminiscing about himself louder than ever, and it would be a shame to choose not to listen. 

In the second single off his new album, “Fascination,” Tamino recalls an instance of dissimilarity he noticed between him and his girlfriend: their reactions to a documentary about flamingos. He relates the situation to an overall difference in their demeanors, as he powerfully sings “I lack the colors reflected in your eyes when you look up to the sky, to me they don’t seem to appear.” The triviality of the story behind “Fascination” does not equate to a silly tune. His thoughtful lyrics about simple observations and the ’90s-sounding alternative rock sound accumulates to a track that is as contemplative as it is downright enjoyable, and the last 30 seconds of vocal runs let Tamino assert himself before digging into the rest of the vocally filled album.

While he does not receive the acclaim he should, especially in the United States, Tamino’s talent isn’t going unrecognized by his fellow artists. Colin Greenwood, bassist of Radiohead, joined Tamino’s live and studio band after the musician saw Tamino in concert a few years back. It’s telling of how well he’s performing the genre that Greenwood decided to permanently join his backing band, since many have compared Tamino’s soft rock sound to Radiohead. Another Belgian singer, Angèle, is featured on “Sunflower,” undisputedly the most whimsical song on “Sahar” and perfectly suited for the soft voice of the international pop singer. 

“Sunflower” is as expertly communicated as any of the countless yearning-filled Tamino songs, but what sets this one apart is how in tune the imagery of the lyrics are with the production of the song. It begins with twinkling noises fused with the light sound of waves crashing; fitting when the unnamed “her” is described as a “golden-haired girl singing by the ocean.” The gentle tone of “Sunflower,” along with the perfect blending of Angèle and Tamino’s voices, charms listeners through the nth desperate “oh baby, don’t you notice me?” 

Recently, Tamino released a music video for the song reminiscent of “The Truman Show,” which depicts him as a lost boy looking for his love who resides in space, with a wardrobe more princely and production design dreamier than anything Jim Carrey was trapped in. The video is directed by Ramy Moharam Fouad, Tamino’s younger brother, who heads all of his videos. Fouad’s precision and sharpness is as stark as the moon shining over his brother; it is evident their family ties are not what gets Fouad the directing jobs, but their shared vision and sensitivities.

Though Tamino returns to his favorite lyrical themes on “Sahar,” he offers new angles on his romantic anguish, giving a look past his cool and collected surface. If you’re looking for a beautifully thought out group of songs together with a voice that could kill, tap into “Sahar.” It’s well worth the listen. And when you’re as captured as the rest of us, Tamino will be performing at the new venue Racket NYC on April 21 and April 22. He puts on a simplistically spectacular show, and if you wait around the venue for about 45 minutes, you may just get to tell him as much. Or, like me, you could let it slip that you think he’s a “f*****g genius.” It’s hard to keep words in when talking to someone who lets them fall out so easily.