Music review: Tamaryn’s “Dreaming the Dark”- a pleasing collection of dream pop and darker explorations

credit Gina Canavan tamaryn
credit: Gina Canavan

I randomly discovered New Zealand born Tamaryn on a generated playlist on some music streaming service, probably based on a shoegaze/dreampop search. It was 2012 and the song was ‘Love Fade’, two years after its album “The Waves” was released. It was a balancing dose of resounding jangly guitar riffs and seraphic synths pulled down by the weight of its melancholy.  Tamaryn‘s voice solemnly teetered a line between whispering innocence and raspy savor-faire. I imagined a small array of a traveling band standing together, slowly gazing the ground in unison as the lyrics sing “Fade, love fade, as the sun descends”, with shimmering sunlight peeking through its crevices.  I was committed.  Anyhow, almost seven years has passed since then.  With each album afterwards (2012’s “Tender New Signs” and 2015’s “Cranekiss”), Tamaryn has pivoted from her debut, subtle in some ways and luminous in others. Her fourth album and newest release “Dreaming the Dark” is the epitome of such direction.  With the former, she has slowly emerged from the consonant concoction and bliss of  guitar and synths echoing each other, but like lounge wear, still cant really let it go, even finding ways to inject life without it inherently sharing her space. And with the latter, she powers through, remnants of old mostly obscured under synth pop and 80s industrial influences.  Produced and co-written by Jorge Elbrecht (Violens, Ariel Pink), the result (when they gel) is a blossoming blend of crystalline Cocteau Twins’ inspired cohesion and dark synth pop experiments.

The songs that stood out most on this album were the ones with the repeat-worthy hooks – tracks like ‘Fits of Rage’, ‘Angels of Sweat’, ‘Terrified’ and arguably a potential pop hit in ‘Path to Love’ with its lyrics “I’m choosing a path that leads to love, I’m taking what’s mine and giving it up.”  I also liked the heavier ‘Dreaming the Dark’ and another heavier track ‘Paranoia IV’. With these tracks, i imagine her voice as  a small plane darting in escape mode, at one point dodging colliding steel and distorted beats and slipping through doom.  In contrast, ‘the Jealous Kind’ while it does suggest and even flash an ominous tone, with its circus type feel, is probably the most surprising track – like a mixture of Strawberry Switchblade, Johnny Marr and Stock Aitken & Waterman.

Otherwise, if there’s anything i’d point out that could’ve worked out better is ‘Victim Complex’. It just came across as if there was some push for the Depeche Mode/People Are People drum sound for no real sake. I might change my mind.  Overall, “Dreaming the Dark” is a fine release of close influences, with perimeters ranging from Robin Guthrie-like ambient guitars on one end to a mixture of darker synth pop settling around the middle and industrial suggestions on the other end.  While not a total departure from its beginnings – actually ‘You’re Adored’  could also resemble a nice connection to the past – “Dreaming the Dark” doesn’t hesitate in its exploration.

“Dreaming the Dark” will be available for release March 22nd.

Until then, the third song from the newest album was released yesterday.  Its called “Path to Love” and its below.  Note – there’s also a video but its age restricted on youtube.   I did share it on the This is Chill#-the daily chill facebook page.

 

 

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Watch the video ‘Hum Drum’ by Pheremona from her debut EP “Waybright”

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Colorado born music artist Emma Henry has a history of showcasing her singing talents, with the teenage vocalist covering classic rock and pop artists as seen in the X-Factor and American Idol tapings.

Years later she relocated to California, has apparently shelved her cover song collection and moved on to her new project Pheremona, a mixture of dream pop, trip hop and witch house influences.  Any fans of Grimes, Phantogram and even Salem and more dark pop and twisted musings should consider adding her debut EP “Way Bright” – released this past October (2018) – to their collection.

The video ‘Hum Drum’ can be watched below.

 

-portions of article shared from press release

Ginla’s “Codex” – the debut is a satisfying mutation of the dreamier side of things

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Since their formation in 2012, the duo of Jon Nellen and Joe Manzol – known as Ginla – have released a couple of singles (noteworthy ones include ‘What About the Sun’ and ‘Come Down’) that would apparently define their vision they had for their first full release. Flash forward to summer of 2018 and the process before the “Codex” release was set. Beginning with the early summer first single ‘Lomo’ – a laid back electro-acoustic flair of reflections – followed by their mid summer second single ‘Infinite’, an enchanting blend of resonating spaciness and daydream-like yet transparent voices, loosely held by fun drum n bass influences. When i first heard this, I couldn’t help but feel ecstatic for it. That said with the two releases beforehand, my concerns of an otherwise mediocre album set in. After the Sept 7th release (on Terrible Records), I’m happy to say that’s not the case.

“Codex” is an achievement in blissful lullabies, addicting at times, lovingly soothing the soul, fluctuating in pace that elates but remains true to itself. Songs like ‘Crown II(feat. Naima)’ represents the reflective side; with its shadowy organ, pensive strum of the chord and clumsy clashing of found sounds and xylophone. The lyrics sing about a reluctant plea to eternal love and eventually letting go. ‘Infinite’ is on the opposite, with Brian Eno keyboard sounds briskly conveyed by subtle drum n bass taps, lyrics delivered from the point of view of a daydreamer yet confidently voiced above the murk – imagine a dream pop Elliot Smith? I can’t help but repeat how much superlatives this song deserves. I also like ‘Between’ with the start of distant ambient echoes and the acoustic guitar loops eventually morphing into midi guitar loops at the end. With the two singles being released before, i felt the placement of ‘Infinite’ set the entire mood for the album, quickly picking up the pace from the interlude sounding first song ‘Codex’ – the title of the album. Its arguable if ‘Lomo’ was placed before ‘Infinite’, it would’ve created a more nuanced build up, but jumping into it wasn’t a bad idea either.

Beyond that, i was impressed with the jazzy organ ambient sounds of ‘Irridescent’ and the spacey acoustic guitars of ‘Interlude’. With ‘Cub’ its acoustic driven riff inspires a hook that suggests a ballad, yet with subdued slightly quirky beats influencing enough to nod your head in rhythm. ‘Know Yourself’ starts off with sampled drum patterns and melancholic organs echoing not far behind, with lyrics “the keys on the counter stove, the words you forgot to say” forging into satisfying clarity highlighted by impressive doses of electro, ambient and IDM.

Honestly i was hard pressed in finding a flaw with this album. That said there’s bits and pieces that seemed odd. ‘Crown’ with its faster than normal drum n’bass influences appears to feel out of place as it advances to the slower reflective ‘Lomo’ – the first single released. Still its not really bad they did this. If i want to hear a good drum n’ bass track, i know where to press play. Of course, there’s ‘Crown II’ so i guess they need to stick together. The positive of it all is more music right? Anyways “Codex” is a stirring debut that should appeal to those who still have faith in the existence of chillwave and it won’t end this decade. At the very least, it could be their contribution because who knows what will happen next? For now, its a worthy 2018 release.

The album is out now. Most of the links will forward to the fan link.

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Chill #31

Chill #31 brings us back to the 1990s, a decade that in the US experienced underground music bubble to the service. Although the major labels thought they cornered the industry by snagging up artists from indie labels from all sorts of genres under the alternative umbrella – in addition to applying that DIY mentality with a bigger budget, it created an audience that didnt fully accept this. Many genres and sub genres left underground or left behind were given opportunities and some of them were able to mix those influences to create a movement of its own. This episode is dedicated to that – chill music from the 90s, whether its goth, ambient, shoegaze, experimental, dream pop, celtic or more, hidden in plain sight, moved along due to time constraints. Here’s a trip back in time. Strange it seemed like yesterday.