Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Timber Timbre - Timber Timbre (Out Of This Spark)

Taylor Kirk’s Timber Timbre project sees his music decamp to a woodland cabin not a million miles from that previously inhabited by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, all brushed earth tones and rural charm. But while the location may be similar, the headspace is entirely different; where Vernon lost himself in deeply introspective melancholy and a largely bleak worldview, Kirk’s music is stained with a deep, black gothic humour. It lends his self-titled third album wonderfully lighthearted overtones, even as the delivery and sparing instrumentation provide a severe, and sometimes downright unnerving backline.

Central to everything is his voice – a soft, throaty croon that’s both immediately distinctive and strangely anonymous. Buried deep underneath its idiosyncratic touches, away from the sudden broken leaps it makes during ‘Until The Night Is Over’ or the quavering warble of ‘Magic Arrow’, there’s a baritone richness that places him in a lineage of singers stretching way back through US folk history. That Timber Timbre is tied to a similar heritage, offering a convincing modern interpretation of a fairly rustic musical form, merely serves to lend it a warmth and authenticity that belies its slight structure.

As much as anything else, Kirk is a dab hand at storytelling, as unafraid to throw in the odd pop cultural reference as he is to ramble at length about far less obvious subject matter. Opening ‘Until The Night Is Over’ with a direct steal from The Animals – “There is a house in New Orleans…” – before subverting that staple with a whispered “… where you woke from the coma and bit your cheek”, is a clever masterstroke, at once spooky and endearing. And opener ‘Demon Host’ is starkly confessional, with pleas of “Oh Reverend, please, can I chew your ear / I’ve become what I most fear”. Over the album’s length it blends into one perhaps more than would be ideal, settling quite comfortably in the background where others might grab for your attention with hearty crescendo or sudden upward shift. But then that’s a small part of this album’s soft-edged charm – it’s easy to slip into and as easy to slip out of otherwise, even as small fragments of Kirk’s voice lodge in your consciousness on the way out.

Words : Rory Gibb

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