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Ever since Marc Riley suggested to Midlake during a live 6music session that the sound they had so lovingly crafted reminded him above all of M. Night Shyamalan’s masterpiece The Village, I’ve been loathe to over-eagerly conjoin music and film. (As you would imagine, the band were really pleased to have their sound compared to a film that centres on the clunky pseudo-appropriation of a well-worn aesthetic in a modern-day setting. Poor Riley. He really did love that album y’know). At worst, you come off like a simpering try-hard matchmaker; at best you spot a simple similarity that doesn’t really change much either way. Rarely does it ever shed much light on either piece, and most of the time you’re pretty much just point scoring. But then…fuck it. I couldn’t watch Timber Timbre and Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone ON THE VERY SAME DAY coincidence fans, without mentioning how perfect they appear to be for each other. A palpable sense of obfuscated menace, finely crafted worlds that envelop and disorientate with their idiosyncratic customs and codes; brooding glances, stunted exchanges, creaks and cracks on the bone and only the slightest slither of light through the trees. You should try them together… s’good.
Anyway. I don’t look at my watch, but it must be a good 15 minutes before Timber Timbre leave anything resembling a gap for a round of applause. Bathed in a death-red glow that makes it look like the sort of stage that would host the last band you will ever hear before shuffling off completely, Timber Timbre take their time and get good and lost for a while. Like Winter’s Bone, time slows to a never completed stutter full of false starts, wrong turns and backward steps, but unlike that film and its protagonist forever searching for a gap in the trees of the American South, Timber Timbre are deliberately going deeper, desperately trying to force out the last scrap of sky. And the effect is breathtaking. If every song on the album is a faded Polaroid of incident or setting, this live introduction is an extended waltz through the murk, an elongated investigation that breaks away the border and allows the world to bleed out and breathe. It almost makes me disappointed that this enveloping leg-stretch hasn’t been, to my knowledge, captured on record, but then, if live music is about offering up ephemeral experiences that can only ever truly exist in one moment, then this is just about right. Equally, Taylor Kirk is a sight to see live, his bloody Screamin’ Jay Hawkins style yelps and howls matched by the pained contortions of his face, almost as if each syllable is being jerked out of the throat without his full consent.
Watching Kirk live, you get the feeling that, for all the gothic grace and lurking eloquence of his recorded snapshots, he’d rather be getting deeper into the woods and lost for longer than any conventional song structure would allow. The self-titled album demonstrates that he is able to craft something entirely beautiful and haunting out of six minutes or less, but imagine the sights to be offered up if he ever decided to throw away the map… exactly the sort of world I’d want to get lost in.