You plummeting down yet another cutting in the road like a crevasse through geological time, as the rocks all blur together so does history and time and perception. Wind burned eyes strain to see down the centre line as the clear road ahead fills with metal, hot rushing cars you seem to slip past with only an inch to spare. Open it up on the straights, no cooling it down around the bends, but no knowing what lies in wait around the corner, far too fast to avoid; like in life, on the road you sometimes hurtle towards something, never knowing what it is and knowing you can’t avoid it; knowing that around any corner, in any dip or hidden entrance could be two tonnes of trouble in a horrible sun-bleached red hatchback, or a car driven by someone not prepared for the lightning-fast heel/toe work like you are, someone who doesn’t know the road… or maybe just another speed freak like you… You just have to focus on the centre line, keep your mind on the road and the pedal-pressures and off realising that somewhere out there, maybe on a Californian back-road but maybe just around the corner, there’s a speedfreak just like you going hell-for-leather in the opposite direction. Do you feel lucky, punk? Are you experienced? Given the backdrop of existential fears focused on a small space, we bring you an album called shoegaze, but to term it that and knock off for lunch is horrifyingly detrimental to exactly the kind of wide-open face-out spaces this album drops. Listening for the Highland suicide run was Tamaryn’s the Waves.
So what is this album then? As we scithe through the backroads Highland hills heading hell-damned for the horizon if it isn’t shoegaze? Electrofolk float your boat? Electric ethereal? Drunken stumbling rambling riffage echoing across the dawn? I’m just making up genres here, but all the best music makes ya do that. How ‘bout Blue Cheer? Sub-sub-sub Hendrix isn’t a genre but it’s the only label I’d have on those records. You wind slowly through the villages, gunning the engine looking for an excuse to drop it into third gear and set off like a jet fighter… the title track of the Waves drops in as you see that sign, end of the village, time to gun it. No room at all for mistakes. The car drops to second and takes off like a rocket, racing up through thirty… forty… fifty, into third and the engine whine drops, all the while Tamaryn, headlined by the fair-sex’d psychologists assistant of same name, isn’t taking off at all; the achingly beautiful debut sounds like it’s permanently fading out, Rex John Shelverton’s guitar is the only thing close to becoming exciting in this fest of downer riffs with naught to recommend to them ‘cept the almost Neil young dead Man approach to the way they grind their riffs. Tamaryn’s vocals are haunting and ghostly, the entire thing is drenched in reverb, to such an extent that headphones seem like a necessity, regardless we’re letting it rip through the car windows with full volume engaged as we bomb it down these Highland glens. Longing for the sweeping bends, the hairpins, the straights… gunning it up so that all you can hear is the wind… Traversing the incredible landscape at such a pace that the vast mountainscapes seem to bound up to meet the bonnet of the car before diving into another glen, out of sight but still wailing on the engine like an attack jet dropped into a bombing run. Behind you, the village, the cars you just passed, the mountains quickly disappearing into grey dots in the mirror. It’s more specifically the second wee mad road of the west, the 23 mile mad run, filled with bumps and drops and scythes and wells, between Lochinver and Kylesku in Sutherland.
Tamaryn pull off a groove pulled many times before, the pop-shoegaze, and their mention is elevated by the ethereal female vox from the eponymous lady, and being able to pull these riffs like their shoegaze contemporaries but without a hint of pomposity that keeps them from feeling prosaic or derivative. Their grooves are serene, trembling masterpieces that seem to filter out of the sea or the sun and hang motionless in the air above the lochs we’re bombing down into. Diving and swooping along this road, our car no longer a vehicle but a cockpit; our tiny vessel buffeted by the wind but holding tight to the ribbon of concrete spaghetti clinging to the side of these hills. Though all of this Tamaryn holds still, like silk held frozen in mid-air the beauty and frozen potential bleeds from this album. In Coral Flower there aren’t even intelligible vocals, just a humm, just a lazy drawl of sound still more touching and delicate than I care to metaphor into obscurity.
So that’s what I’ve been doing, sitting astride a missile purporting to be a car caterwauling down the forgotten highways of Sutherland gettin’ high off Tamaryn and her killer band. What have you been doing?
Written under Durness by Steven.