Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Parts and Labor 
(Rift Records)
Melody Maker, 1992

by Simon Reynolds

Ain't it peculiar the way that so much of the trendy lo-
fi weirdness that's coming out of the US underground - prime
examples being Truman's Water and God Is My Co-Pilot -
actually sounds a helluva lot like the shambles of Bogshed
and The Shrubs? Once again, there's that funny feeling of
being back in 1986.  But I'm not complaining so long as
there's bands as excellent as Timber. Like Thinkin' Fellers
Union and Cul de Sac, Timber offer the listener a dose of
eclectic shock therapy, an epileptic mish-mash of Fall,
Beefheart, Ubu, and other avant-garage avatars.

What's cool about Timber is that they rarely get so
quirked-out they forfeit "feel" or groove.  Rhythmically
adroit, they can shift from supple to jagged in a trice.
"There's Always 1 & 9", for instance, boogies like ZZ Top
covering "Trout Mask Replica", while samples whizz about
overhead for added mayhem. "At The Same Time" has a happy-go-
lucky, bucolic vibe reminiscent of Meat Puppets' circa "Up On
The Sun": pretty remarkable since the band are from the grimy
Lower East Side of New York, not Arizona.

Timber are pretty fucking versatile. They can do total
noise avalanche Faust-style ("I'm 30, I'm Having a Heart
Attack"), ambient drone-scapes ("The Evidence Is Shifting"),
and dismembered blues ("The Real N.Y."). They add stately
horns to The Blue Orchids' "A Bad Education" (drummer Rick
Brown's previous band Fish & Roses also covered BO's "A Year
With No Head"). I guess the line in "Bad Education" about
"the law of dissipation" was slacker-delia 10 years before
the fact. "Belay That" reminds me that Stump actually had
their moments, believe it or not. The sheer truckin' glory of
"Stupid Reasons" and the mellifluous, manna-from-heavens
blues of "A Passage From Pakistan" are kind of what I always
hoped Grateful Dead would sound like. And Timber have a whole
bunch of "songs" like "Deerslayer" which suffer from a bad
case of Sun (Ra) stroke.

Timber show that instrumental virtuosity and a bit of
learnin' really do help if you want to throw weird shapes,
rather than merely "reinvent the wheel". The UK's inept-and-
proud-of-it nouveau shamblers could afford to take note.  Not
so much pushing the envelope, as putting it through the
shredder and pasting the pieces into a mosaic collage, Timber
turn the avant-garde into a playpen.


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