On Hot Dreams, the third studio album for Arts & Crafts, Timber Timbre daubs vibrant colour across the restless evolution of its earthy, angular palette.
Taylor Kirks singular intonation, quavered in slow, low register, combines in haunting resonance with collaboratorbandmate Simon Trottiers stark yet lavish arrangements. Normalized is the bedrock of folksy and fifties Timber Timbre, now cached in smoothed, viscous tonality new sonic admissions, ringing sensuality and caprice, neon and haze.
On the title single, "Hot Dreams", seductive guitars chime melancholy and petulance, articulating the enigmatic Kirk in his most languid voice. Guest Colin Stetson envelops the backing vocals of Romy Lightman (Tasseomancy) in timeless cycles of intoxicating velvet saxophone. The consonance of Mika Posens strings mingles with vintage contributions from Olivier Fairfield on Fender Rhodes and Mathieu Charbonneau on Mellotron – pivotal players in Timber Timbres lineage returning to add multiple instruments to Hot Dreams' balmy clime.
On the acclaimed Creep On Creepin On (2011) – nominated for two JUNO Awards and the Polaris Music Prize Short List – Kirk and Trottier transmuted the hollow grey tones of Timber Timbre (2009) into plaintive doo-wop through oblique, concrete passages.
With Hot Dreams, Timber Timbre transposes new definitions of historic ambience, unabashedly weaving unity between disparate environments. Bring Me Simple Men" is among Kirks most cinematic work, connecting trembling western to plodding horror with the pomp of Hollywood phantasm.
Grand Canyon" finds the band locked in that impenetrable gorge, cascading irreverent melody – conjured from theremin, lapsteel, tubular bells, and baritone guitar – up and out from its echoic walls.
The grooved insistence of Curtains!?" – words penned with Simone Schmidt (Fiver, One Hundred Dollars) – punctuates Timber Timbres peculiar sound with soft violence and definite metre, suggesting the depth of this taut live four-piece and rigid counterpoint to the fluidity of Hot Dreams.
Culled from ideas born during a stint Kirk spent in Laurel Canyon, Hot Dreams coalesced throughout 2013 with Trottier joining Kirk as composer and producer. The pair arranged the new material at The Banff Centre, a multidisciplinary arts compound nestled in the Canadian Rockies, later adding an array of classic synthesizers from Calgarys National Music Centre. The record was engineered by Graham Lessard at The Banff Centre and Thee Mighty Hotel 2 Tango in Montreal; and mixed by Mark Lawson.
Hot Dreams is Timber Timbres most fully realized album in a sinuous and infinitely rewarding catalogue of imagistic work. The thoughtful songcraft, Kirks expressive accent, are intensified by his most affective lyrics to date.
The sardonic mantra of Run From Me" casts its company off in a dirge disguised as an ode, giving way to the speechless devolution of The New Tomorrow", as Hot Dreams slowly lowers the curtain on a beautifully unsettling scene.
With the residue of its end credits etched on our lids, Hot Dreams instills as Timber Timbres most evocative and focused work to date so distinctly familiar though it precedes memory, recognizable only as itself, as woodsy evokes the exotic.
The Wooden Sky
Navigating the strife and uncertainty of evolving friendships, lost loves, death and the ever-shifting challenges of the music industry, Gavin Gardiner (vocals/guitar), Andrew Kekewich (drums) and Simon Walker (multi-instrumentalist) found themselves in a new place: holed up in Toronto's west-end—in Gardiner's garage-turned-studio to be exact. With the help of familiar collaborators Edwin Huizinga (violin) and Andrew Wyatt (bass and vocals), the band spent grueling hours together digging deeper into their sound, looking both for answers to their doubts, and a way to quiet them.
The results, you could say, are loud.
The album was conceived amidst many changes for the band—saying goodbye to both a founding member and their longtime record label. In the process of putting the pieces back together, The Wooden Sky looked to the talent and brawn of friend and producer Chris Stringer. Together they worked and reworked the songs, studio-hopping around Toronto in order to give each track a unique shape and space on the record.
With Let's Be Ready, The Wooden Sky draws on nostalgia to capture the warmth of the tunes that inspired them to make music in the first place. This warmth—coupled with a freshness that looks to the future—serves up a new sound and new hope for the band. Let's Be Ready acknowledges the pains of the past but with a gentle optimism and acceptance.
Let's Be Ready also marks the first release from the bands new record label, Chelsea Records. Chelsea grew out of the rubble in which the band found itself in early 2014, but has nonetheless come as a welcome change with exciting new possibilities in tow. In the future, the band hopes Chelsea will be able to provide this for other committed artists as they too grow and develop, providing them with the resources and freedom they need to forge ahead in their careers.
Thanks to a devoted and ever-growing international fan base, (the result of a strong history of touring-success in Canada and abroad), and with a string of awards and nominations under the belt (including a 2012 Juno nod), the band is set to leave any remaining doubts behind. Letting their hair grow long and armed with perhaps their most confident record to date The Wooden Sky is poised to cross the world reaching new heights on the back of it's latest album, Let's Be Ready.