Music

Tammar: Visits

At its core, Visits is an album all about the art of creating a sonic atmosphere, creating music you can feel pumping through your cerebrum, music in which to get lost for a while.

Tammar

Visits

Label: Suicide Squeeze
US Release Date: 2011-09-20
UK Release Date: 2011-09-26
Amazon
iTunes

The cover art of Bloomington, Indiana five-piece Tammar’s debut LP, Visits, depicts a curiosity: a purple, rocky walkway leading to a purple, ridged cave, covered in patches of purple, scattered moss. Within this monochrome cave, there's a slight opening, through which an ocean of sorts is visible off in the distance, glimmering underneath a gorgeous, cloudless, bright blue sky. It’s a welcoming sight, one that allures you with its trippy majesty, as if it’s inviting you to take the walk, however long it may be, and see what you can find along the way.

Not coincidentally, the dreamy "wobble-pop" (as Tammar themselves term it) contained within Visits would be the perfect soundtrack for taking such a journey. Like the purple cave depicted on their album’s cover, Tammar makes music that is psychedelic and pretty, artful in its humming drones, glorious indie riffage, and overall unpredictability. Like the defined walkway leading up to the cave, though, there is always a certain sense of structure that guides the whole of Visits’ 44-minute runtime. Tammar is most definitely a band which knows when to surge to wailing, chest-thumping crescendos as well as when to let the resulting madness die back down to a grooving warble. And like the empyrean ocean which can be glimpsed from the entrance of the cave, the seven tracks which form Visits are often huge, sprawling pieces which, in the hands of lesser bands, would result in a typhoon-esque mess of an album.

With only one of these tracks lasting less than five minutes, Tammar is keenly aware that their Sonic Youth-ian guitar hooks and shoegaze-y droning, though plentiful, can only get them so far. At its core, Visits is an album all about the art of creating a sonic atmosphere, creating music you can feel pumping through your cerebrum, music in which to get lost for a while. This is evident right from the initial organ buzz of opener "Heavy Tonight", which becomes a steady whirl for the track’s layers of swift guitars, crashing percussion, and, perhaps most arrestingly, frontman Dave Walter’s echoing, arena-sized yelp to jam, and gradually shift, around. Like most of Visits, the song never gets too huge for too long, and leaves not only a barrage of hooks, but also the overall experience of hearing the track lingering in your head well after it concludes.

While a word like "jam" could raise red flags for some, Visits’ sonic twists and turns always tend to have an organic feel to them. Although it’s never obvious, every rise in tempo, alteration in guitar riff, or change in Walter’s inflection seems to always come at just the right moment. It’s in the way "Summer Fun", the only track less than five minutes, and subsequently the most radio-friendly cut on the album, suddenly busts out a chorus of handclaps in the midst of its infectious, Smiths-like lead guitars -- if you haven’t noticed by now, guitarist Evan Whikeheart is impressive on this album -- and more of Walter’s affecting mumbles. It’s in the way, on album highlight "Deep Witness", Walter’s punkish, Joe Strummer-style sneer grows increasingly defiant as each whirling surge of melody loops around and around back to the listener’s ears. It’s in the way the subdued percussion and dreamy arpeggios of closer "Frost Meter" allow the vocals to take center stage, for once, only to consume the clarity in a rush of manic, grooving post-punk, before fading out one last time. And so on.

Ultimately, Visits is effective at being affecting, its atmosphere hazy and trippy, its hooks memorable and captivating. Though Tammar is somewhat guilty of riding the same "gradually build to frenzied highs, then fade out to mellowed, hooky lows" trick on most of the album, this does not stop these tracks from just being really damn good. Tammar’s almost improvisational nature allows for them to take what would be fairly standard Joy Division apes and breathe into them a sort of signature sound, highlighted especially by Walter’s haunting moan, carefully adding a certain zest to the layer upon layer of their epic, pounding glory. "We can’t slow down," Walter howls on "Deep Witness", and in that line is all you need to hear before you’re welcomed to this journey, before you’re welcomed to these purple caves.

7

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image