Believe it or not I used to watch television. Despite being fed and clothed and shuttled off to school by my parents I feel like television, more or less, raised me. I learned some valuable life lessons from the likes of Optimus Prime, and Jack Tripper (I was allowed to watch reruns of Three’s Company in the afternoon on KTLA Channel 11.. those were the days) I don’t watch TV that much anymore. I am one of “those people” who have “cut the cable”. However, I like great episodic television shows, but I have to wait for them to eventually find their way to Netflix streaming. It is hard living a spoiler free life, but I manage. In 2008 I guess I was fortunate enough to watch Breaking Bad when it debuted. There was an odd comfort in crawling into bed on a Sunday evening and following the exploits of high school chemistry teacher turned meth dealer Walter White & Jesse Pinkman and looking forward to new episodes on a weekly basis. Obviously I was one of the many that also really wanted to just see the acting range of acto we all knew as “the dad from Malcom in the Middle” which, as we now know, his range was/is incredible. He pulled the role of Walter White off quite well.
Like most great and memorable television moments, they’re made great by how they’re filmed and acted (obviously) and also excellent choice of accompanying music. Music and cinema – that’s an obvious marriage, and one that spans many decades since the silent era of film into the advent of “talkies“. When done right it leaves an indelible mark on the viewer. Sometime during season 3 of Breaking Bad there was an excellent scene in which there was no dialogue but only a music score that accompanied the scene, and that music was provided by the band Timber Timbre and their song “Magic Arrow” off their 2009 self titled album “Timber Timbre“. Totally make sense.
The song, its overall mood, and sound – it struck the right chord with me. I immediately filed it away in my incredibly disorganized, but still able to pull out from for future record purchases, mental filing cabinet. But, twist! – I never purchased that album.
I did however end up “liking” Timber Timbre on facebook though. But in another twist, it was a few months ago that the NPR Music facebook page, not the band’s, that actually linked to the streaming page for Timber Timbre’s new album, “Hot Dreams”. It was upon the first listening that I would have one of those “Ohhhh” moments, and I’d find myself listening to the album a lot via the NPR music page and I was hooked. Then NPR stopped streaming it and I had to go out of my way to find my “fix” (going somewhere with this..) It would be a while, however, that I’d actually end up getting the album on vinyl.
The first track on Hot Dreams is the odd, impressionistic and cinematic, song “Beat The Drum Slowly” with lyrics like:
“Deco tower, rainbow fountain showers
Crystal columns, silver tabloid entry
the celebrity cemetery..
A faded trail of a golden age
that flickered out into celluloid ashes
…It’s not hard to see and hear how Timber Timbre can evoke cinematic images its music and would be used in film and television.. and the song continues with the refrain:
“Outran the avalanche… To the cameras rolling..”
From there the album plays out like a movie. Each song, a brilliant scene. If I had to compare Timber Timbre to another artist in order to explain their sound to someone who has never heard Timber Timbre (pronounced Timber Tamb-ER) I would liken it to mid 90’s Nick Cave, but with a flair for the weird, the darker, the spookier, etc. A bit “folkier” I know, Nick Cave’s music is all those things as well (except folk). I am sure that makes sense, to someone.
The album has been out for a while. Initial pre-orders for the vinyl sold out quickly, but should be readily available from their website now. I didn’t get my copy until recently (via Amoeba.com) and ever since its arrival on my doorstep it’s been on constant rotation in my home. Prior, I was only able to listen via my tablet or laptop as I lulled myself to sleep at night to the soothing sounds of this cinematic album. I am not a big fan of listening to music through mobile devices or computers, but I needed my fix (another subtle reference to how this article started, look at that!)
Of note, and in all seriousness, this album really does sound great on vinyl. It is of course pressed on 180 gram black vinyl, and I do find it a little odd that it actually seems to be slightly larger than 12 inches as the album has a little bit of extra “lip” hanging off my platter when placed on said platter. It is a nice “slab of wax” quiet, flat, and no defects (no warps, or scratches from pressing plant debris, thankfully).
As we head into mid year we’ve had some great releases so far in 2014 with more to hopefully come.