It will be interesting to see how Tim Kinsella is regarded in music circles 20 years from now. Once having gained the stature of king in the indie rock world, having founded pre-emo pioneers Cap’n Jazz as well as avant-pop outfit Joan of Arc, you can’t help but admire Kinsella’s adherence to his own musical vision that has, as a result, distanced himself from fans of his earlier, more accessible work. Recent solo albums like the pretentious Crucifix, Swastika or the spontaneous skronk of one of his many side project bands, Make Believe, are more noteworthy for their ambition than their quality.
Kinsella’s latest solo venture is Field Recordings of Dreams, a disc that arrived with no label save some masking tape with Tim’s name Sharpied on it and a press release hand written on a Xerox of Museum of Fine Arts Boston letterhead with “Ladies Committee Associates Parking Validation” stamps all over it. I’m not sure I “got it”. Recorded at the Kinsella home over three years, the 16 largely instrumental tracks sound more or less like scrapped ideas for Joan of Arc melodies or songs. Half-formed guitar lines are overlaid with incidental sounds, keyboard burbles and occasional percussion to no real lasting effect and most tracks have a scant runtime of one or two minutes. But the breaking point for most listeners will be Kinsella’s spoken word pieces, the most trying being the disc closer “Depths of Field”, that lasts an agonizing 36 minutes in which Kinsella monotonously recites a dull baseball story (that I struggled to stay involved with), doing all the voices and, since it seems it was all recorded on a first take, we get to hear him cough and clear his throat too.
I’m probably one of the few critics left who still believes Kinsella has some great stuff still instead him, but he is losing the goodwill of both critics and fans by releasing tossed off projects like this.