Timber Timbre: Timber Timbre

Keep it simple, keep it good, and people will listen. Except with Timber Timbre, where there's not much to hear.

Timber Timbre

Timber Timbre

Label: Arts & Crafts
US Release Date: 2009-06-30
UK Release Date: 2009-08-17
Label Website
Artist Website

It's a little known fact that cinematic music rarely seeks out the cinema. This might seem a strange claim at first, but consider it: how many expansive, atmospheric, visual, or otherwise acts that you know of end up on movie soundtracks? The answer is not many -- some, some of the time (Radiohead anyone?) but certainly not all, all of the time.

So what does accompany big-screen worship? It seems to me that Timber Timbre, with their self-titled and apparently much-hyped debut, come pretty close. If all of this sounds like a venomous criticism, perhaps it shouldn't. Timber Timbre at their best are quite interesting, as well as strangely unsettling (I consider this a good thing). On a misguided attempt at plotting music on a spectrum, these folk-blues-pop-god knows what songs would land somewhere between Bon Iver's low-fi aesthetic, Fleet Foxes' straight-faced vocal delivery, and the deep blues of Robert Johnson. That is, if all three happened to meet in a haunted, abandoned carnival. Frontman Taylor Kirk also has a rather endearing, if limited, voice. Minimalism is employed well throughout, such as in "Until the Night is Over", and "Magic Arrow". So far, all so pleasantly functional.

And therein lies the problem. For a start, there's that crippling Movie Soundtrack Disease. The symptoms include wishy-washy melodies and songs that rely too much on mood instead of strength, but the overall effect is far more damaging. And it's this: it's next to impossible, for all my efforts, to get emotionally attached to these songs. You want them to accompany an on-screen yarn about a hardened road traveller traipsing across Clichéd Old Country, Alabama. You want them to be wilder and less safe. And while it does move (though painfully slowly at times), most of all you want Timber Timbre to take you along for the ride, instead of leaving you by yourself, fed up and frustrated.

All of which is not to say it's never good. Opener "Demon Host" is a fun strum along, if you can ignore the dull clang of Kirk's occasional lyrical clichés, and "We'll Find Out" has a strong, old-timey melody. The thing is, for me at least, thinly spread pleasantries just don't cut it on a mostly forgettable album. There's just too much repetitiveness here, too many flat, uninvolved arrangements. When I got to the end first, I couldn't recall a single song on Timber Timbre, or a single lyric.

Which is, in short, why Timber Timbre in 2009 would be perfect for the cinema: nobody watches movies to recall the music. Just as well, because after this, you won't be able to.


The Best Metal of 2017

Painting by Mariusz Lewandowski. Cover of Bell Witch's Mirror Reaper.

There's common ground between all 20 metal albums despite musical differences: the ability to provide a cathartic release for the creator and the consumer alike, right when we need it most.

With global anxiety at unprecedented high levels it is important to try and maintain some personal equilibrium. Thankfully, metal, like a spiritual belief, can prove grounding. To outsiders, metal has always been known for its escapism and fantastical elements; but as most fans will tell you, metal is equally attuned to the concerns of the world and the internal struggles we face and has never shied away from holding a mirror up to man's inhumanity.

Keep reading... Show less

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

Two recently translated works -- Lydie Salvayre's Cry, Mother Spain and Joan Sales' Uncertain Glory -- bring to life the profound complexity of an early struggle against fascism, the Spanish Civil War.

There are several ways to write about the Spanish Civil War, that sorry three-year prelude to World War II which saw a struggling leftist democracy challenged and ultimately defeated by a fascist military coup.

Keep reading... Show less

'Foxtrot' Is a 'Catch-22' for Our Time

Giora Bejach in Fox Trot (2017 / IMDB)

Samuel Maoz's philosophical black comedy is a triptych of surrealism laced with insights about warfare and grief that are both timeless and timely.

There's no rule that filmmakers need to have served in the military to make movies about war. Some of the greatest war movies were by directors who never spent a minute in basic (Coppola, Malick). Still, a little knowledge of the terrain helps. A filmmaker who has spent time hugging a rifle on watch understands things the civilian never can, no matter how much research they might do. With a director like Samuel Maoz, who was a tank gunner in the Israeli army and has only made two movies in eight years, his experience is critical.

Keep reading... Show less

South Pole Station is an unflinching yet loving look at family in all its forms.

The typical approach of the modern debut novel is to grab its audience's attention, to make a splash of the sort that gets its author noticed. This is how you get a book deal, this is how you quickly draw an audience -- books like Fight Club, The Kite Runner, even Harry Potter each went out of their way to draw in an audience, either through a defined sense of language, a heightened sense of realism, or an instant wash of wonder. South Pole Station is Ashley Shelby's debut, and its biggest success is its ability to take the opposite approach: rather than claw and scream for its reader's attention, it's content to seep into its reader's consciousness, slowly drawing that reader into a world that's simultaneously unfamiliar and totally believable.

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

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