September 2, 2011

North of Northwest: Timber Timbre – Creep On Creepin’ On [Revisited]




I’d like to thank Timber Timbre for teaching me something important about myself: that I am not just fickle and persnickety. When I spun up Creep On Creepin’ On for the second of my Polaris Prize re-visitations, I was afraid that it, like Braids’ Native Speaker, would seem dulled by time, less impressive and maybe a little stale. In turn, my neurotic mind worried what this would say about me: that I have no real taste or consistent opinions? That my thoughts are blown on the wind like a thousand grains of pollen? That I’m nothing more than a giant pile of impressionable mush, shaped day by day by whatever hand idly pokes at me? (That I constantly overthink things and draw personal conclusions where there are none to truly be drawn? That I ramble like mad?)

Fortunately, I found with relief and delight that I actually enjoy Creep On Creepin’ On more now than the first time around. The languid, gothic feel is perfect for the closing days of summer, for the last lingering golden afternoons, for Faulknerian daydreams (and Faulknerian stream-of-consciousness music columns). I want to traipse around in something drapey and drink mint juleps in a graveyard, to experience that particular emotional dissonance of blinding brightness and icy chill.

It’s no subtle path that leads me here: spirits haunt Timber Timbre’s songs like an old Southern family’s dark secrets, a familiar feeling in the Pacific Northwest, where even sunny days have cold shadows and every small town could be Twin Peaks. “I could not smother out that fire in my head / And saw your levitating chair / I found your long blond hairs / I felt your poltergeist presence in the frame of the bed.” Appropriately, Creep On turns summer imagery sinister: sparrows and starlings haunt doorsteps like dark-winged harbingers, and the innocuous phrase “a lavender scent” is followed by the far creepier “bone-orchard of hearts.” (One of these things I have in my front yard every summer. One I do not.)

When I wrote of Creep On in April, I said that “the keyboards sound like whistling winds, and the hypnotic chorus of ‘black water black water black water’ echoes the monotony of the long grey march through the Northwest spring.” So maybe, with these summertime feelings, I am a fickle beast after all. But I’d say instead that Timber Timbre’s latest mood piece is an unqualified success, something that absorbs and transports universally, always lifting you up to a more magical version of exactly where you are.



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