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Timber Timbre : ICA, London, 27/4/2011
Author: Chris O'Toole
Published: 23/04/2011

Exquisitely named Timber Timbre are branded as a three piece – with multi-instrumentalist Simon Trottier joining violinist Mika Posen alongside vocalist Taylor Kirk – but they are one star shining brighter than the others in their ornate offering. Kirk has possession of a wry, weathered voice which delivers morose sermons or sardonic sketches with equal aplomb. It is he who leads the band through their meticulous, crafted adventures, pointing out circling ravens, broken down wooden shacks and corrupt doctors offering services for a price.

But while Kirk is the focus, he is ably assisted by his accomplices. Trottier picks up guitar, sampler, autoharp and (skeletal) percussion duties for the group, building a dark, atmospheric cell from which Kirk laments. Posen, also, is sparing in her use of violin, finger picking or deftly stroking the instrument with maximum economy. Combined the effect can mesmerise an audience, drawing listeners into a rapt state where each wink, reference or even breath carries an aching significance.

Performing at a deferential ICA – accompanied by a, perhaps unnecessary screening of 'Nosferatu' - Timber Timbre are in their moody element. Eschewing crowd pleaser, Magic Arrow, made famous by cult US comedy 'Breaking Bad', Timbre Timber instead rely on recently released 'Creep On Creepin' On', while also dipping into earlier efforts 'Cedar Shakes', 'Medicinals' and their, perhaps strongest, eponymous album. While variation was a touch limited, Timber Timbre have such a crafted, immaculate sound it seems churlish to complain; they could have played for twice the allotted time and the crowd would have stood head bowed drinking it in.

Recalling early Swans – after Michael Gira had two-or-three whiskies to raise his spirits – Timber Timbre are a real undiscovered gem. Their heavy, lumbering blues deserves to reach a far wider audience; perhaps offering some light relief on the funeral circuit?

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