Tamaryn | The Waves
Most Likely To: beat deliberately, incessantly, remorselessly upon the bedrock of the shore, inexorably reducing mighty boulders to the tiniest specks of sand.
Lots of people love the ocean but I think it’s creepy as hell. The damned thing is controlled by the freaking moon, for crying out loud, and nothing good has ever come from that. A vast, deep, unknowable force in thrall to a big-ass rock forever circling over our heads held up by a force scientists still don’t have a clue how to explain, forever pounding away at the edge of our precious continents, our beloved home turf. Yeah, that’s great news for us. Damned ocean. And damned moon for that matter, too. They’re both out to get us, eternally looking for ways to re-consign us to the briny deep our four-legged fish ancestors made a desperate bid to escape from eons ago.
And now this Tamaryn woman has gone and recorded an album that fills me with the same sort of existential dread the ocean does. She’s named it after the waves, the most obvious example of the moon and sea’s desire to do us in, and that’s exactly what it feels like. Listening to this album is like watching the surf pound against a secluded shore on a moonlit night. It’s undeniably pretty, but it’s got a creepy undertow that wants to drag you down and drown you and hold your corpse in its dark embrace till the end of time.
Waves of fuzzed out guitar crash against languid waves of melody, creating boundless depths of oceanic currents, with Tamaryn’s vocals riding upon the surface like silver moonbeams. One imagines Tamaryn and her partner Rex John Shelverton staring at the waters surrounding their San Francisco base and vowing to get it on tape. They accomplish that goal in grand style by creating a droning stew of psychedelia, shoegaze and darkwave goth – they sound like a combination of The Black Angels, Mazzy Star, and loveliescrushing.
While nearly all the songs on The Waves sail the same ocean – stately, deliberate feedback swells and drones with ethereal melodies and just enough percussion to keep things moving forward – Tamaryn sounds out enough different depths to keep things from ever getting dull.
The title track is a slow grind, while the backing track on “Choirs of Winter” feels like a My Bloody Valentine 45 played at 33 while someone keeps bumping the stereo. “Love Fade” is comparatively upbeat, with its pop melody feeling like a complete barnburner in the context of the rest of the album. “Sandstone” is built upon a haunting, circular motif that is simultaneously beguiling and forbidding. And “Cascades” just does what its title says it does.
Tamaryn have recorded a beautiful album, but like the dark waters it evokes it laces its beauty with unease and disquiet. Like the pair that work together from space and sea to create its namesake, The Waves wants to entice the listener and draw them in, only to drown them in its depths. Like I said, it creeps me out. But I can’t stop listening to it.
Listen to “Love Fade” from Tamaryn: