I was a young and impressionable teenager in high school when Twin Peaks first debuted on TV. Though the show’s visually arresting style was in stark contrast to the rest of the pap that was on the tube at the time, I was drawn to Angelo Badalamenti’s indelible soundtrack more than anything else. Away from the images of dead girls wrapped in plastic and one-eyed men running around in the woods, the music seemed beamed in from an alternate reality where the creepy is commonplace.
Whether emulating Badalamenti or not, Taylor Kirk has created his own parallel universe in the music of Timber Timbre. It’s near impossible for me to even find an accurate musical comparison, let alone a fitting classification: creepy crooner? devil’s doo-wop? roguish rock? Ultimately, it’s an exercise as pointless as jogging to catch up to an ice cream truck. Creep On Creepin’ On is what is it: the 2011 Polaris Prize short list’s most unconventional album (and that’s saying something about a list that includes Colin Stetson’s New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges). Timber Timbre’s sound is idiosyncratic without being unfamiliar. Songs like “Do I Have Power” and “Bad Ritual” have a recognizable rock swagger to them, but slowly, their form begins to flex and bend, like Dalí’s surrealist paintings.
The instrumental “Oblelisk” is aptly named, as it’s ominous, reverberating sound is the pillar on which all the other tracks seem to radiate out from. Each song is like a shadowy, ragged trail into the woods, where you might find a damsel in distress, or you yourself might become the one in peril. Not physical danger, but emotional, mental, maybe even psychological. “You have every reason to be frightened,” Kirk sings on “Lonesome Hunter, “since you’ve been reading my mind,” as if to say that too much knowledge is not a good thing. Later on in the same song, Kirk begs his adversary to “Please break this spell you have me under,” hinting at the dark and scary places that love can take us when we’re vulnerable. “All I need is some sunshine,” he croons at the start of “Black Water”, as if the presence of light is all it will take to dispel the dark mood his spirit is haunting.
Fitting then, that I find Creep On Creepin’ On to be the dark horse of this year’s Polaris race. It has atmosphere a-plenty, and a distinct style, but I would argue that so do a number the other nominees. Is the shadowy menace from a shadowy plant sound enough to set them apart from the pack? I’m going to go out on a limb here and break from my rule of not making predictions until the morning of the Gala and say that Timber Timbre is not going to take home the prize on September 19, but Creep On Creepin’ On‘s inclusion on this year’s list is very much deserved and welcomed.
Creep On Creepin’ On was released on April 5, 2011 by Arts & Crafts.
And you’re very welcome to head over to the Quick Before It Melts Facebook page, where you can “Like” and/or Comment on this post on our Wall, and in the process get yourself entered into this week’s Polaris Prize re-cap contest. Thanks to the good folk at Canvas Media and Arts & Crafts, I have a copy of Creep On Creepin’ On to give away. Feel free to post and posit whether you feel Timber Timbre has a shot at the Prize, and definitely Share it with all your friends so they can join in on the discussion, too. (Please be sure to check that your Facebook privacy settings will allow me to send you a message directly if you’re the lucky winner.) For those not on Facebook, you can also enter by leaving a comment here through the link below.
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