Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
This is cabin writing. This all comes about after some considerable thought and dilemma, an easement of all those uncomfortable, pressing tendrils that wrap themselves around your ankles - first lightly as if nothing's really happening, then establishing a firmer grip and then curlicue-ing around the calf and further up the leg. These are the problems and the unseemly thoughts of a troubled soul finding a way to take over and usurp control over rational thought. Somehow these persistent and dark ideas are winning, though they're winning in a fashion that serenely woos us. It's maybe the way that the most deviled things take hold initially, before they can fully work their ways into the bloodstream to remodel, to knock out some walls and throw their stink on the joint. Taylor Kirk, the young Canadian man behind Timber Timbre and what we're going to call one of the absolute finest records of 2009, opens the door for these insidious thoughts, offering them a fair greeting and a slap on the back as they step over the threshold and enter the residence. It's one of the most special and completely enchanting albums to have been released this year, giving us this big and clear voice that seems to come at us like a warning, cutting through an invisible blackness, but sounding every bit like a friend. There are the plunkings of a ghostly piano, carrying on with a steady rap and vibration. There are the wonderfully mic-ed instruments, feeling as close to our ears and throbbing souls as physically possible - crisp and dangerous, as if they could become something three-dimensional and wanting, bloodthirsty, ready to scare. There is the graveyard shift of a string section, a mellow and menacing guitar sustain, a percussive bass sound and an echo hollow of a room playing tricks on all of the sounds swimming around in it. This is white knuckled chamber pop, championing the fine art of leaving us without all of the details, leaving us with a hunger for wanting more, for needing more of the sound, more of the story of hell - no matter how terrifying it may be. "Timber Timbre" is a concise album that makes us fall in love with our natural fears, those fostered by our normal doings and those which just lie idle. We find, in listening to the eerie and heartbreakingly beautiful songs of Kirk's, that those fears are hard-wired directly to our ideas of love and its richness. It's without a doubt that Kirk's hell and his heaven are on the same block, sharing a zip code. With a bluesman's capacity for feeling the pits of despair and a soul singer's great gift of making his unparalleled sorrows sound refreshingly wonderful -- as if we should all be so lucky as to have had the same sundry circumstances on our heads - Kirk gives us these haunting episodes of a man shaking. They are kindred spirits with the scary moments when you can't wake up from your nightmares, when bad is being inflicted on you and everyone else is just playing the parts of inactive bystanders. You can't rise or slap yourself awake, a vain attempt at taking control. There is a thrumming in Kirk's voice that reminds us of M Ward, Jerry Lee Lewis playing gospel songs and a medicine man or a prophet, never really letting us forget that he's under the impression that he knows something substantial and important that we don't - that we'll just have to find out for ourselves. Timber Timbre songs come to us as if they are delivered by a man who knows the dimensions of the devil's living room, knows what kind of brandy he keeps in the liquor chest and also knows the color of the walls in God's bathroom, knows what's in the medicine cabinet and he plays all of this knowledge against itself, understanding the delicacy of the similarities as the real scariness.
Timber Timbre Official Site
Arts & Crafts Records