Timber Timbre at Muziekgieterij, Maastricht – an interview

What is going on? I will arrive later in Maastricht, Netherlands, than the band itself, Timber Timbre, who have travelled all the way from Switzerland…Holiday traffic jams, roadworks galore and then a city thronging with people and coaches from all over Europe. Ah, the city’s greatest son, André Rieu is playing his hometown in a beautiful old open air setting slap bang in the middle of the city. Masses of fans queue up and populate every, and I mean every, restaurant and cafe in town. Will there be still people attending Timber Timbre at the Muziekgieterij tonight? I am not insinuating that the fans share a musical taste here but that visitors might simply not get into town…But they do, many of them, and they are being well rewarded with a great final gig before the venue’s summer lull. Here we go:Timber Timbre at Muziekgieterij, Maastricht – an interview.

Timber Timbre at Muziekgieterij, Maastricht - an interview

Timber Timbre play songs from all albums, neatly interject the new “Sincerely, Future Pollution” album and do so with a dark, hypnotic and yet danceable vibe. Encores galore, a very friendly band, what more do you want. It is however very dark, suits the music, suits Taylor Kirk, but does not suit the camera so much…

Earlier in the afternoon, a tired Taylor Kirk enters the venue from the tour coach and kindly chats to Offbeat Music Blog. A quiet, pensive, well-spoken man who strikes me as very modest and friendly with a good sense of humour.

At this point, I would like to thank Ingrid Huhn at City Slang and Yann Dupuis, tour manager, for making it possible and as always the great crew at the Muziekgieterij, the appreciative audience of this venue and of course Timber Timbre for the great performance. And now we chat:

 

Timber Timbre at Muziekgieterij, Maastricht - an interview

Offbeat Music Blog: Thank you very much, Taylor, for taking the time for this interview on your rather strenuous tour!

Taylor Kirk (Timber Timbre): Yes, of course.

OMB: Has there been a defining moment in your life where you decided, music is something I want to do and totally immerse myself in it and create?

Taylor Kirk: I can remember as a kid seeing another kid, a couple of years older than me: He was playing guitar at a friend’s place. He was playing “Heart Shaped Box” by Nirvana. This really captured my imagination and I understood that I needed to be able to do that. That was the only real kind of moment. From that point on it was just something that needed to be done at some level.

OMB: How old were you there?

Taylor Kirk: I think I was maybe twelve or thirteen.

OMB: And did you come from a musical family?

Taylor Kirk: Yeah, my Dad is actually a drummer. We used to actually play together when I learned to play guitar. We would jam.

OMB: You joined bands before Timber Timbre. Were they in the same kind of genre?

Taylor Kirk: I suppose, yeah. I was mostly playing drums before this project in other people’s friends’ bands, kind of, yeah, rock’n roll music.

OMB: When you look back at Timber Timbre and the bands before that, do you see a straight line in your development, in your songwriting?

Taylor Kirk: Yeah, to me it is quite linear. It changes a certain way. I can track where it’s come from and how it’s changed. I observed that. And also, you know, part of that is intentional and deliberate, and part is also subconscious and a result of learning.

OMB: When you sit down to write a song, do you think about the perception they might receive or is that at the back of your mind and you write them for yourself?

Taylor Kirk: I remember when I began making recordings, writing songs, that it was really just for me – it was for my own kind of catharsis or pleasure. Now, as I go along, I notice more and more that the thing is kind of infected by this concern that it has another purpose, that it is not just meant for me. I always try and put that away but it is there. It is too bad. I wish I could somehow undo that. I don’t know what that would mean to reverse that kind of idea or that factor, you know.

OMB: You recorded your new album “Sincerely Future Pollution” in France in a studio that was full of old, mainly electronic, instruments and you made use of them in a big way. But did you already have in mind before that to change direction a little bit?

Taylor Kirk: Oh yes! The idea was that we would make something that was decidedly electronic and maybe even sort of uptempo or danceable. Something more kind of fun. There was a curiosity about doing something different. It didn’t really go as planned but we did end up embracing this different instrumentation. It is not hugely different but I guess it is just the era of the synthesisers we were using.

OMB: For me it is not so different. There is some new additions but it is still Timber Timbre.

Taylor Kirk: For some it was a big deal.

OMB: For some it was a HUGE deal to the point that they claimed this is not Timber Timbre anymore. How did you deal with that?

Taylor Kirk: I dunno. That was kind of the initial reaction when we started to share the recording with friends and contemporaries and they found it to be…well, it was weird to them and somehow unfamiliar. So that got me a little bit concerned at the time. I never found that it was that unusual.

OMB: Maybe people see Timber Timbre from a different angle sometimes than yourself?

Taylor Kirk: Could be, yeah!

OMB: When you write songs, you do this on your own, I presume and then go into the studio. Do your band colleagues find it difficult, those not being their own songs, to add to them?

Taylor Kirk: No, it seems, as we’ve gone along, they have insinuated themselves more into the thing and made themselves indispensable. To the show but also to the recording process and to the composing as well and arranging. This time around we spent a lot of time together, evolving the songs, the three of us, Mathieu and Simon and myself. Olivier, our former drummer – he was also very involved with sounds and he played quite a lot on the album as well….Did I lose track there?

OMB: No, not at all, you are right on track (laughter). What did you have in mind other than from the musical perspective, from the lyrical and atmospheric side, when you started out doing the album?

Taylor Kirk: All these kind of notes and observations I collected, textural kind of references – all of them were kind of revolving around this science fiction ideas of dystopic realities. I started to consider that we were now living in one of these science fiction worlds that had been written about in the past, had this idea that we had arrived in the future.

OMB: Do you mean the power or the digitalisation?

Taylor Kirk: Yes, that but also the ephemeral nature of how things are disposable and how fast things are moving now.

OMB: You live in Montreal, Canada. Canada is becoming really popular right now, back on the map when we talk about “America”, isn’t it? You are lucky to live there.

Taylor Kirk: Yes, I guess so.

OMB: From the feel of your older recordings and knowing you write in solitude, one would assume you live in the countryside, but Montreal is a pretty big place, isn’t it?

Taylor Kirk: Yeah, it’s a proper city. I dunno, I really thought I was destined to return to the woods. I grew up in a rural place. But I haven’t managed to do it yet. I haven’t managed to be courageous enough to do that on my own. One day…

OMB: If, like you said, tend to write “in a bubble”, how do you find touring? You have one stressful tour here at the moment.

Taylor Kirk: It’s fun. I really really used to hate it. I really preferred to be at home but somehow I have adjusted and I have come to like it and need it. It’s weird. It has been very different now with this group. It’s become a lot more fun to do it with this group of people. To play in this kind of traditional format of a rock group is much more satisfying, I think. People know what this is and they respond to it. As opposed to what we were doing years ago. It was really difficult.

OMB: With the audience?

Taylor Kirk: Yeah, to win people over in the format that we were approaching it with before.

OMB: And now you get a good feedback?

Taylor Kirk: Yeah, it doesn’t require the same level of patience and attention. It is a bit more like (snaps fingers).

OMB: With the more complex nature of the instrumentation on your new album, are the songs more difficult to take to a stage?

Taylor Kirk: It is only really now that we had to pay attention to honour what we have done with the recordings with the live show. It is still a bit bigger and heavier but we have never been overly concerned about that. This time we weren’t really able to do other arrangements because of the nuanced things. Everything needed to be there.

OMB: So it was a bit like jumping into cold water then. But it worked out fine?

Taylor Kirk: Oh yeah, yeah! There was a big concern also that the new music wasn’t going to fit with the older repertoire but it’s all good.

OMB: Which song on the new album “Sincerely Future Pollution” best exemplifies the spirit of the album?

Taylor Kirk: The one that I was really the most proud of was “Sincerely Future Pollution”, the song. Because we really realised it as a group. That was probably the first time that something had been created organically between all of us together. It is quite anonymous on the recording but that’s the one for me.

OMB: Are there songs that you won’t play anymore from the past or on the contrary are there songs that you can still totally identify with?

Taylor Kirk: Oh yeah! I mean there are lots of songs that we never played because we just never were able to make them compelling in a live setting. And certainly there is older music that we have played for so long that it needs to be put away for a little while. Yeah, I dunno, I think everything from the catalogue is still cool, is still relevant. But maybe the first two recordings, “Cedar Shakes” and “Medicinals” – these were home recordings I did on my own. These are much more rooted in blues music and folk music. It would be tricky to find a place for a lot of these songs.

OMB: Is there any question where you would think – sitting at home and thinking about doing an interview – “I would really like to be asked that”?

Taylor Kirk: (Laughs out loud). I never ever think about that. I am not a good interviewee. I get really nervous about these kind of situations.

OMB: Well, this is not television and something big! So, nothing comes to mind?

Taylor Kirk: No, nothing in particular (laughs).

OMB: Thank you very much, Taylor!

Taylor Kirk: Thank you for the opportunity!

 

 

 

 

Introducing Lemonade Kid, Oblong, Lusterlit

Three very different artists on the blog with new releases today or rather tonight – but all of them involved in music with the sheer joy and dedication that you would expect from any musicians but would not find so often in the fodder that is fed to us in the charts. Please make yourself acquainted with Lemonade Kid, Oblong and Lusterlit.

Lemonade Kid

Lemonade Kid hail from gorgeous Shrewsbury in the UK. Fresh from the press is their new EP “Program Electricity” after a busy last year including making soundtracks, featuring on BBC6 Music. Lemonade Kid also announced a new album for later in the year.

Introducing Lemonade Kid, Oblong, Lusterlit

They regard their music as Electronic Psych Poetry and this is what it sounds like:


I particularly would like to point out the track “This Chemistry” with guest vocals from Vicky Stuart and a hooky little number it is with a serious subject i.e. the end of the world and personal love.

Oblong

Weirdly enough there are several bands with this rare name…we are talking about Oblong from Wales here who refer to themselves as Oblong Pop on the social media. But fear not: This is not pop with the bad smell it has become in recent years. If anyone is in a position to describe popular music from Wales, it must be Adam Walton of BBC Wales and so I’ll quote him: “Spiky joy-injections of guitars into our ear holes.” Just what we need then!

Introducing Lemonade Kid, Oblong, Lusterlit

Andrew Clement, Rob Daniels and Hyws Grav do songs in Welsh and English, coming from Llangennech in South West Wales, UK. descriptor: welsh/english. They have received plenty of airplay and are playing many gigs but just in case you miss them – not letting it happen, here goes:

Lusterlit

Lusterlit prove that deeply profound music and fun playing and listening to it do not exclude each other.

The moment I desperately wished I lived in Brooklyn (again) came, when Charlie Nieland and Susan Hwang mentioned that they are part of the following wonderful institution: The Bushwick Book Club, a rotating group of songwriters and performers of all kinds putting on regular shows featuring new music, art and snacks by a chosen work of literature. This really has it all! The Bushwick Book Club was founded by Susan in 2009.

Now Susan and Charlie have been playing and recording together for several years and released a couple of albums. Eventually they formed Lusterlit to perform their songs on books.

Introducing Lemonade Kid, Oblong, Lusterlit

Their first EP “List of Equipment” features a range of conventional and more exotic instruments presenting songs ranging from shoegaze to soul to indie rock. The songs were inspired by the books: Mastering the art of French cooking by Julia Child; Blood meridian by Cormac McCarthy; The fortress of solitude by Jonathan Lethem and The day of the triffids by John Wyndham.

Get inspired yourself by Lusterlit’s music:

The Trouble With Templeton, Richard Osborn & New Apostles

On Offbeat’s turntable in January you’ll find a bit of everything. What the songs have in common is that they provide heart and soul with much needed warmth. Offbeat Music Blog introduces new releases to you: The Trouble With Templeton, Richard Osborn & New Apostles.

The Trouble With Templeton – Someday, Buddy (Bella Union)

The trouble with The Trouble With Templeton‘s release “Someday, Buddy” (Bella Union) was that it was released pre-Christmas during the usual end of year lull. So it went by unnoticed by some which is why I would really, really like to bring the album to your attention again.

Thomas Calder from Brisbane loves a melancholic song and still does on “Someday, Buddy”. Some people see no development from his band The Trouble With Templeton’s debut “Rookie”, especially in the sadness stakes. I do see a development in the songwriting capacity to a self-confident joining of different genres. Moreover, melancholic as the songs on “Someday, Buddy” may seem, they exude exceptional warmth.

Somewhere between post-rock, gloomy indie pop and slacker, The Trouble With Templeton manage to instill a glow in their songs that will have you listening to the album again and again, preferably in the late hours of the day.

Another trouble with The Trouble With Templeton would be their web presence…their website link is clearly leading somewhere else. Their Facebook is bit outdated. Same goes for the music sites. Hey, so you will have just to get that album and you won’t regret it.  Here is a wee taster for you. My personal favourite is the elegiac “Double Life” but here is “Vernon” that nicely represents a lot of angles on their music.

Richard Osborn – Endless (Tompkins Square Records)

For all you fans of the fingerpicking guitar style (American primitive music in particular) and songs evoking whole movies, listen up: Richard Osborn! Not a name you are familiar with? Despite Richard Osborn having been around playing guitar since the 1960s?

Small wonder, if you look at his story. Richard Osborn was impressed by John Fahey’s style in 1965 and in 1968, Richard became a student of Robbie Basho, not surprising considering his interest in Indian music. Robbie Basho regards Richard as “technically better than me or Fahey”.

BUT THEN Richard Osborn suffered two accidents in 1980 which left him unable to play guitar for fifteen years. Only in 1995 he returned to playing guitar but did not have the strength for steel strings. Finally though, steel strings and the raga style were possible again for Rich, so at last he released an improvisational album in 2012, followed by his participation in a compilation “Beyond Berkely Guitar” (Tompkins Square), another self release and now, as a fantastic start into the new year: “Endless” (Tompkins Square)

 

“Endless” will impress you with all but one instrumental folk songs presented in an immaculate classical style for the most part. The masterpieces for me are however those where Rich Osborn introduces the raga style into his songs which adds a floating, dreamlike quality apart from incredible technical ability.

New Apostles – Recurring Dream

New Apostles first appeared in 1980 and you can still hear the heritage of the time in their music, albeit brought forward musically, lyrically and personally to the now. After 18 years the band broke up and supposedly no-one believed in their comeback after a couple of years. Another 18 years and they are back, full whack, though and have been releasing an abundance of songs that they write and record in the true punk spirit: Quick.

Based on the band’s age, their experience as musicians and many musical influences and also other cultural inputs, these songs are far from thin and superficial: Out come fully formed songs. It feels like they opened the tap and the water just barges out, having been stored up for so long. To high critical acclaim New Apostles have so far in their second coming released three albums: West Bank, Apparatchiks and Collateral Damage.

New Apostles’ music, if you want tags, would be somewhere between post-punk, psych and krautrock, also some electro finds its way into the mix. It is not all doom and gloom, the mixture comes across as a musically satisfying, lyrically thought-provoking but balanced result.

Friday, 27th of January 2017 will see the release of a brand-new album called “Recurring Dream”. A taster you can enjoy below. “Recurring Dream” will be available as CD and digital download.

From what I have heard and can vividly imagine, New Apostles are well worth seeing live, so don’t miss New Apostles from Nottingham/UK.

On The Turntable In Summer

As the world is going mad and it never ceases raining here, it seems, I am in dire need of music. I don’t know about you. So, before I flee to rest, enjoy and also discover new music hopefully, I will leave you with some recommendations for the summer months. Now is the time to dig into the music as the flood of new releases subsides. So: On the turntable in summer.

50FOOTWAVE

On the turntable in summer

Kristin Hersh first emerged together with Tanya Donelly as Throwing Muses and has since delivered a steady stream of sweetest solo work. Her project 50FOOTWAVE is an outlet for her love of harder, rockier, rawer music.  Still with that amazing songwriting quality though and showcasing that exceptional voice.

50FOOTWAVE are Kristin Hersh, Bernard Georges and Rob Ahlers from LA have been on the go since 2005 and have just released their Bath White EP via HHBTM Records, their sixth mini album. It only contains six songs, but, boy, there is a lot of variety and complexity packed into those six songs.

“Bath White” is named after the lowest note audible to human ears which is a nice touch. I really enjoy having Kristin Hersh back and with such fresh songs on top.

50FOOTWAVE’s early releases are available for download free of charge here http://50footwave.cashmusic.org/freemusic/ and licensed for sharing via Creative Commons.

In this relation, Kristin co-founded the non-profit Coalition of Artists and Stake-Holders (CASH Music) in 2007. Over the past few years, CASH has not only completely funded Kristin’s own output, but has also powered dozens of other artist and label projects and has grown into a widely-recognized powerhouse of technical tools that enable commerce, communication and sustainability for artists. So, go on, an absolute worthy cause.

‘Bath White’ is available on CD and vinyl through HHBTM Records or via digital download from Bandcamp https://50footwave.bandcamp.com/album/bath-white. Deluxe 12” color vinyl packages also include full-size artwork, a screen-printed tote bag and a limited edition button.

And here is a taster:

Thank you, Shameless Promotion PR!

 

Tuath

On the turntable in summer

Of course Ireland has a lot to offer musically and music is in the smallest places. Weird for me was that I actually know Tuath’s abode quite well and yet heard about them through this blog. Ah, the joys of the internet. Tuath (pronounced: Too-ah) are from Gaoth Dobhair (Gweedore) in Donegal, Ireland and have strong links to the area and the Irish language, well, because that’s where their home is. Not the diddly-ey music for them, though: This is dreamy, dancey, beguiling, intoxicating stuff, shoegaze, trip hop, psych, you name it – it’s there but it’s totally Tuath.

Tuath are Ashley Mobasser on saximaphone, Robert on guitar, vocals, production and Shane McFadden on drums (who does not want to be mentioned officially) and lots of people on bass – you get it, it’s their own description and since they do that best, let’em continue:

“Tuath is a progressive noise rock quintuplet that utilises computers and other traditional rock and jazz instruments with the advent of the computer to boot(no pun intended).

Tuath’s first EP is entirely in Irish and plan on releasing an organic blend of irish language sean nos style vocals on top of math rock, psych rock and afro blues as their first album in 2016 (late) after an EP or two.”

Enough said. The EP is “Existence Is Futile” and listen to the title track below and watch the brilliant video shot in Gweedore and Letterkenny.

 

What a track, cannae wait for the EP!

 

STFU

On the turntable in summer

I was just waiting for a band with that name…and no, I won’t, not just yet. Who are they, what do they do?

First of all , we have Dean Garcia from London, high-profile alternative electronic producer, mastermind behind Curve and SPC Eco, teaming up with Preston Maddox (Austin, Texas) from Bloody Knives. So far, so very good.

The music is a spiralling, hypnotic swirl that contains elements of dream pop, trip hop and electronica.

Their debut album “What We Want” is due for release on July 29th and the title track is the firsts single.

“What We Want only took three months to make from beginning to end”, says Dean Garcia, “the most painless and connected record I have made.”

‘What We Want’ is being made available via the S T F U Bandcamp. It also features a free hidden gem, called ‘Paralyzed’, which was recorded around the same time as the other songs on this album and features separately on the M A D album ‘Slow Mo’ with Steve Monti (Curve, Jesus & Mary Chain). Find it at http://mad-hq.bandcamp.com.

 

Son Of Dov

On the turntable in summer

Son of Dov is Dennis King from New Jersey, an accomplished songwriter who seems to effortlessly gush out the most delicate and addictive songs, starting from indie and folk, developing into something quite cinematic. His new EP will be “Knight Vision”, produced by Rich Bradley at Silvertin Music.

The first track to be released off the EP is “Boy On Fire” about which Son Of Dov says himself:

“I was hesitant to share at the beginning of the week given the current events as this song and images surrounding my new EP reflect some of the themes going on. This song is almost too personal, but nonetheless it was given such TLC and effort that it should be released now.

“Night Vision” Takes the long way home through questionable back roads and broken down splendour.”

 

Dark Narrows

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I introduced Dark Narrows from Baltimore to you a while back, look here.  Finally, eventually, thankfully, their new album is here, a tribute to some of their favourite new wave and electro-goth bands of the 80s.

Dark Narrows manage effortlessly to write touching lyrics and dish out addictive melodies, put their on stamp on their favourite influences and bring it all to the present. There are some fine songs on The Red Moon and it grows with every listen, loads of little touches to discover and enjoy.

Shortly after the songs for “The Red Moon” were recorded, the band met James Aparicio (jamesaparicio.com). James mixed several of the bands favorite albums. They were already fans of his work so they jumped at the chance to work with him on this album. James was able to solidify the band’s new direction while preserving important elements of the bands sound that are found in the first album.

The band also collaborates remotely with Ben Malone. Ben is located in San Fransisco where he also hosts a radio show called “Under The Atlantic” (BFF.fm).

Utterly lovely and available at all the usual places.

Ah right, you want to hear some right now? Certainly.