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I’m just not quite sure when you’d listen to it
on 17 October 2014
Hot Dreams is the fifth studio album from Canadian trio Timber Timbre, and one of their most cinematically charged to date. They’ve always been known for having their own style, but this album pushes that idea to the max. Indeed it’s hard to make any comparison, so I simply won’t. Instead, take blues influence and mellow rock as your base, throw in some jazz tones and a sci-fi twist, and top it off with every eerie adjective you can think off. Then you might just be getting somewhere near the journey this album takes you on.
Title track “Hot Dreams” is a raunchy slow song made for the laidback lothario. Melodic and plodding, it showcases lead singer Taylor Kirk’s evocative vocals beautifully, building to a jazz solo from sax maestro Colin Stetson, who also counts touring with Arcade Fire in his back catalogue of successes. Stetson’s presence is definitely needed on “Hot Dreams”, bringing it up from the dark sombre depths at just the right moment.
Fast forward to “Grand Canyon”; it’s sinister strings to start, before you’re transported to the outback to play a starring role in your very own Western. For “Curtains” it’s 80s synth, conjuring up the plot of the stereotypical alien abduction film, with each stab of the keys building to a tense crescendo. If that doesn’t do it for you just imagine it being sang by David Bowie in the Labyrinth; it could easily be the film’s forgotten track.
This album isn’t really songwriting in the way that we know it. There isn’t the emphasis on set song structure; there’s not even really that much emphasis on rhythm or rhyme, with each song turning corners – musically and lyrically – before you have a chance to know what’s going on. This is songwriting for the subliminal. Each track is cleverly crafted to pull on your senses, your memories, and your imagination, to force you to create your very own movie to run alongside it. It’s clever stuff and easy to see why the cinematic comparisons are so easily drawn. In fact, half the songs wouldn’t be out of place on the next Tarantino soundtrack.
From that perspective this is a great album. It’s experimental, sparse, minimal and somewhat confusing, all punctuated by Kirk’s morose baritone. You can certainly appreciate it on that level, but I’m just not quite sure when you’d listen to it. It’s not music for the masses, but it it’s definitely interesting and for that it can only be commended.
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