"Moving from zone to zone, we're dazzling bright in the bedsit gloom"
Bandana In Chains 

Tamarisk - Breaking The Chains album review

Eighties time capsule packed with delights

The influences on 80s neo-prog are many and various, and alongside the usual suspects are the interstellar explorations of crusty rock and even shades of punk and New Wave.

Breaking The Chains – an opportunity to hear new recordings of rare classics from neo-proggers Tamarisk – is a timely reminder of the influences that shaped those heady days. From the opening cock crow of An Alien Heat, through to the closing keys of It Was Never There, this is a bracing and wonderful listen. Until now, the only chance to hear this outfit – part pronk, part Hawkwind, part VdGG – was on old tapes or a CD taken from them. Breaking The Chains uses a combination of original master recordings – including the drum work of the late Richard Harris (not that one!) – and new versions using a mix of old and new personnel.

Hearing these recordings conjures the sweaty thrills of the Marquee or fag-choked pubs. It’s hard not to get the whiff of patchouli and bad beer out of the nostrils. But this band still have something to say: …Chains reveals Tamarisk had the anger of Marillion, the cool of Twelfth Night and more power than many metal bands.

A treat from yesterday that still speaks today.

TAMARISK – Breaking The Chains album Review 

By Andy Gee April 24 2018 Gee-Force Facebook pagePage

The band's first new album in......well...... a long, long time.

It's a Mix of their 2 cassettes mastered from the original quarter inch tapes and newly recorded songs, written in the mid 19802's
The opening track is the 5+ minutes of “An Alien Heat” and it's awesome. This is prog-rock turned on its head – inventive, intense and in your face. 

The singer, Andy Grant, sounds remarkably like Peter Hammill as the sampled intro gives way to swirling guitars and the rhythm section really let rip, while an undercurrent of texture, fills out the sound. On top of this, our lead vocals simply glows white hot with a sense of purpose that grabs you by the throat, the song thrashing wildly along as it burns, the whole thing as sharp as razor wire and one mighty opening statement.

 If that wasn't enough for you to get hooked, wait till you hear the 6 and a half minutes of “M.O.J.O.” whereupon the band provide a glimpse of what VDGG could have been if they'd had synths and a mellotron, as the most stunning blend of vocal intensity, spiraling electric guitars, stumbling rhythms, synth rivers, mellotron choirs and the twisiting and turning of the arrangement allowing the vocals to go from nerve-jangling to unnerving in a heartbeat, all combine to take your familiar seventies prog delight, into a whole other universe, as the synths solo to a sudden end.

“Royal Flush” starts with a high register wailing synth that sound s like it was nicked off a '90's trance track, before the band tear headlong into what will be a familiar track to those who go back in Tamarisk history, this time a chorus making it sound as much like a Peter Gabriel track as anything, but still the band exhibiting this massive sense of urgency in their playing and arrangements, so tight you think they're going to explode at any minute, the vocals soaring to the skies like a jet fighter then dropping back to earth for the multi-tracked choruses, arguably the best track Gabriel never made. 

 “Ascension”, one of the best tracks they ever made, is up next and it sounds immaculate. Steve Leigh's synths lead the way as the rhythms shudder, the guitar cycles like a rollercoaster, melodies shooting out at all angles and the extended intro having the worlds “Classic Prog Rock” running through it like a stick of Brighton rock. Just short of 4 minutes into the near 7 minute track, in comes the vocals, with a hushed verse before it blossoms out into the song's hook line as all around guitars shine, the bass is massive, the drums provide the weight and the synths fill the space, as Grant lights up briefly before heading back to the almost evil intonation of the song's verses, all the mystery of serial killer and fun-fair stall holder combined in one glorious performance.
I think, by now, you get the flavour of this album – there are 7 more tracks of which three are between 7 and 10 minutes long, but all of which feature the Hammill-esque Andy Grant, absolutely on fire with a vocal tour-de-force throughout that carries all the emotional impact that you'd expect from such a comparison.

Meanwhile, the band play the heady brew of vintage seventies prog-rock but bring it kicking and screaming into the 21st century. On top of all this, every single song is just immensley written, arranged, sung and played to perfection, not to mention the production, which is simply stunning.

As prog-rock albums around right now, this is at the top of the tree and no mistake – arguably the most essential purchase in this genre that you'll make this year – but definitely the most enjoyable as you repeat play it to the infinite horizons into which it stretches.

TAMARISK – Breaking The Chains album Review

By Michael Haifl January 29 2018 Streetclip TV

Praised as the undiscovered jewel of British hard rock

TAMARISK are attributable to a new wave emerging in the early '80s, which we nowadays call Neo Progressive Rock. 

In a time when Punk, New Wave, and the NWoBHM were raging, groups such as PENDRAGON, IQ, and PALLAS were leading the commercially dying Progressive Rock into the new decade. Not only MARILLION sought inspiration from GENESIS. Above all the feeling for melodies as well as the use of keyboards and epic guitar runs attracted a multiplicity of interested ones into its spell. On the other hand, TWELFTH NIGHT plaited a dark note and a touch of New Wave into their music. And it was in this same spell that TAMARISK from northeast London got caught.

Out of the ashes of CHEMICAL ALICE, where Mark Kelly (MARILLION)once played. Vocalist Andy Grant and Kelly's replacement, Steve Leigh (later LANDMARQ among others) formed TAMARISK.

The legacy of TAMARISK amounts to two cassette EPs, 'Tamarisk' from 1982 and 'Lost Properties' 1983. Currently, 'Cult Metal Classics' have been given the chance to hand over remastered silver pieces from the original master tapes to the small but possibly larger fanbase, included on the CD are four newly recored bonus songs .

The 'An Alien Heat' instantly reveals the rock vein of TAMARISK, in a lilting, oriental-spiced melody. With New wave overtones.

The parallels to MARILLION and singer Fish are very clear in the next track' MOJO. While the keyboard-driven 'Royal Flush' could have been a single. 

'Breaking The Chains' is in a self-contained way what TAMARISK likes to dig in terms of song structure. 

'Ascension' finds this later and in a whisper is completely into it. 

TAMARISK stand between the stools, with some songs that could not survive in a purely progressive context. As well as their atmosphere alone in a metal sense. 

Heavy Rockers with a lot of understanding for keyboards could break out of the SARACEN environment and be inspired by TAMARISK.

Fans of the 80s Neo Prog, on the other hand, are likley to devote themselves to this interesting, early period of their music genre.

Historically valuable - 7.5 points

Available now Direct from Cult Metal Classics or from your local retailer