Review: Timbre – Sun & Moon

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Timbre, a woman known to make hauntingly personal and spiritual songs with voice and harp, has created her grandest work yet with Sun & Moon, a concept album based on the dichotomous relationship of the protagonists in George MacDonalds beloved 1882 fairytale The Day Boy and Night Girl.

 

As her solo career has progressed over the past decade, Timbre’s albums have gotten decreasingly sparse and increasingly bright. While 2008’s exquisite Winter Comes To Wake You was entirely melancholic and almost exclusively based around piano, harp, and voice, 2010’s Little Flowers has a more colorful palette that frequently features drums, strings, and woodwinds, evoking Springtime while remaining grounded in the bittersweet.

 

This progression has set the stage for Sun & Moon, an ambitious double album with a “pop” music half (Sun) and a “classical” music half (Moon). There is of course a bit of bleed between the two traditions on each record, as Timbre’s artistic output has largely been defined by exploring the common ground between moody chamber pop and the majesty of traditional Christian church music.

Timbre’s secret weapon on Sun is drummer Mason Self, a tasteful maverick who brings relentless creativity and refined power to what are otherwise very delicate pieces. The arpeggiated harp shredding that starts halfway through “Night Girl: Nycteris Sees The Sun” could be a forgotten Bach sonata if not for Self’s booming groove (see above video). The added instrumentation brings Sun closer to standard indie-pop territory than the daring, hollow sound of her earlier work did, but Timbre’s trademark still shines through thanks to her singular ear for composition.

The Night half of the record is the less approachable one for the same reasons that is also the the more diverse; the track lengths vary between four and sixteen minutes, among them some purely instrumental pieces and also some purely choral pieces. Timbre’s treatment of a choir is strongly influenced by Eric Whitacre, a contemporary composer known (and sometimes hated) for his love of minor seconds. A minor second is a dissonant interval that, when sounded on a distorted electric guitar, creates a harsh sound that we affectionately know as “the skronk”. In the context of choral music, however, it generally serves to add a ghostly and otherwordly quality to any chord it inhabits. Listen for them in the tense climax that starts at 6:20 in “St. Cecelia: An Ode to Music”. This piece is the best misplaced Tim Burton soundtrack that Danny Elfman doesn’t have the aching heart to write.

 

Although it is a stupendous commitment by 2015 standards, listening to this double record through as a complete work rewards the listener with repeated motifs and a complex range of emotion. Timbre has moved from finding hope in the austere to finding pain in the magnificient, and in the process she has created a tremendously rich work that reminds us that adoration of the past mustn’t be dogmatic to be genuine, nor must it be regressive when applied to modern forms of expression.

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  • The songs sound pretty chill and cool.

    Wasn’t even aware of this artist at all until now. Thanks for the post.

  • HessianHunter

    Timbre is among my top 5 most listened to artists ever because I am a poser hack full of poser feelings and she makes everything seem OK. @toiletconfessions

  • The W.

    I’ve got a friend getting a doctorate of musical arts in harp. It’s pretty amazing watching a truly skilled player handle a harp. I’m definitely going to check this out in a bit.

  • Tyree

    This reminds me of when my mom used to drag my ass to Catholic church every Sunday mourning. This sounds like church music. That’s a scary and fucked up memory.

    • Gee, I don’t know if my childhood-memories could top that level of abuse.

      • Tyree

        I wish this abuse on to no one. NO ONE JAY!

    • HessianHunter

      I also grew up going to church, so music that hints at the Divine is way scarier to me than any over-the-top Satanism.

    • Maik Beninton

      I still go to church with my mom. I never pay attention to it and always forget what they said right after I leave.

      • Tyree

        Well, you do have a plank nailed to your head. So…

    • i was raised Catholic. that’s why i am not one today.

      • Tyree

        Precisely.

  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    all 3 at once–full vol
    https://youtu.be/_n4OEKcMxow

    -https://youtu.be/DUCRFMZ-hiY

    -https://youtu.be/WcYtQitO-lY

  • Awesome writing, Baby Pumpkin. I’m very interested in this for multiple reasons. Thanks for sharing and for writing about it, will listen to it later.

  • Guacamole Jim

    This is fucking gorgeous. I love it. Both Sun and Moon are excellent, and it’s nice to hear a concept album that doesn’t use the whole “I’m going to play really soft when you think it should be heavy and really heavy when it should be soft because I’m deep.” No. Moon sounds like night, and Sun sounds like day. Beautiful stuff.

    • Guacamole Jim

      And purchased. Damn exchange rate. Worth it though.

  • INDUBITABEARD

    This is excellent

  • That’s a paddlin’

    This sounds like something I need to devote hours to.

    • I am at a lost for words. This is incredible.

      GL

    • That’s a paddlin’

      Also, If this is what ‘Murican church music sounds like, I need to get on it.

      • INDUBITABEARD

        No

      • HessianHunter

        I’m not aware of anyone else using the powerful elements of church music so effectively in a pop setting, unfortunately. church music here is either bland hymns or even blander “rock” music.

        • I had to go to mass at a “progressive” catholic church one time where they had a rock band. FML. Mass should be enjoyed with no music. That is my opinion.

          GL

          • i once went to a concert inside a church, it was a bunch of christian bands (mostly ska). there was moshing. oh the LOLZ

            #SkaFacts

        • That’s a paddlin’

          All we ever had was an organ. That’s it. But bland “rock” music doesn’t sound any better.

          • HessianHunter

            I think the organ has potential to be a uniquely powerful instrument. It’s an instrument made from a fucking stone building, after all, and you’re INSIDE IT. At my church the very skilled organist would play classical organ pieces immediately after the service; some of the darker Bach pieces hit you right in the gut with the power of an organ behind it.

          • Dude, some of those organs are impressive. I have seen one similar to the picture below. Very impressive both visually and audibly!

            GL

            http://www.n8rrb.com/pipeorgans/holyfamilycc/IMG_7706_1.jpg

          • That’s a paddlin’

            I would love to hear a master command a good organ, but unfortunately the best I’ve ever heard was a poorer performance of this piece.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5htcXhHQ7Vk

          • Stockhausen

            The organ professor where I went to grad school was unbelievable. He put on a Christmas concert every year where people would write down the name of a Christmas tune and put it in a bucket. After he played some prepared pieces for the concert, he would draw FOUR Christmas songs from the bucket, and improvise a medley that would eventually have all four going at the same time. It was unreal.

          • That’s a paddlin’

            I’d go see that.

          • The W.

            Cosigned

          • The W.

            I love the sound of an organ.

          • Stockhausen

            For the past few months, I’ve gotten the itch to own a pump organ. I was visiting my grandparents last week, and my grandpa offhandedly mentioned the two pump organs that he has lying around. He said I’m free to take one, so as soon as I can rent a UHaul to take across the country, I’m getting me a pump organ.

          • Deep Purple m/

          • Kevin Nash & Friends

            They are among the best users of the organ.

          • your wording made me huehuehue out loud

          • Stockhausen

            Some friends of mine got married at a very old church in our city, partially because the bride grew up going there and partially because of the massive organ built into it. The recessional was an intense Bach piece I forgot the name of, but they specifically told the organ player to go full blast after they were pronounced. I was a groomsman, and I almost got thrown across the sanctuary by the sheer power.

          • Tyree
          • KJM

            Huhuhuuhuhuh, “organ”, huhuhuhuhuh…

          • Tyree

            Pretty much the same live when I saw them too.

    • She is not bad on the retinas either.

      GL

      • That’s a paddlin’

        Not at all.

      • I don’t look at the artists, it’s all about the music for me. I didn’t even know Timbre was female.

        /white knighting

        • Tyree

          Trve. I never looked up images of Katy Perry.

        • Watch the video above, duder!

          GL

  • Tyree
  • Her voice reminds me of Sharon Van Etten. I dig it. Good work, Pumpkin Baby.

  • Void Dweller
    • Tyree

      Dude, thanks for the Herpes.

      Edit: South America is a breeding ground for the most savage sounding metal.

      • Void Dweller

        It really is.

    • sweetooth0
  • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Hillary Clinton =herpes

    • Tyree

      When you’re right, your right zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

      • zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

        thanx—-yer a really cool dude–kind of “above” the bullshit—
        better
        00
        i want to thank my parents…and the constitution….—-(not being “high on fire”—but wisdom—and love for my fellow human beings
        ===
        fuck those motherfuckers—–

        10-10-01–proves Rockefeller mafia (Clintons/u.n)were engaged in heavy false flag attacks against America—-during 911/anthrax attacks
        the heart of the matter
        god bless america

  • KJM
  • Tyree

    You see this fucker? (Refresh for image). I’m going to find and kill this asshole! FUCK YOU DICK!

    • INDUBITABEARD

      Lolbuttz

  • INDUBITABEARD

    Speaking of churches, check out where this job I’m working at is

    • KJM

      Nice.

      • INDUBITABEARD

        It’s storming as if a god is mad that I’m here

  • Stockhausen

    Holy cow, this rules. It sounds like ingredients that could have made boring feely-pop were taken and actually, you know, thought about. Can’t wait to listen all the way through these albums.