A Journal Of The Dark Arts
file under: hyper-intentional minimalist folk rock
Recommended if you like: Cello, Violin, Guitars, Flying Nun, Xpressway, Alasdair Galbraith, Summer, Autumn, Falling In Love, Falling Out Of Love, lo-fi pop, The Finn Brothers/Crowded House, Stephen Steinbrink, Barry Brussea, Stephen Malkmus/Pavement, Connor Oberst/Bright Eyes, K Records
Here’s another one in our Anacortes Music Series:
Timothy Blackman isn’t from Anacortes; it’d be hard to come from farther away. Originally hailing from Wellington, New Zealand, i met Mr. Blackman the last time i was in Anacortes, for the final What The Heck Fest? We ended up crossing paths again, in Portland, and he slipped me a copy of Everybody Needs Something To Hold On To. That was a little under 2 years ago, when i first arrived in Portland, and there’s been a great deal of life under the bridge since then, and i have not yet had an opportunity to spread the gospel of this beautiful document. So it is with great delight that i present Timothy Blackman’s second full-length.
Timothy Blackman had been away from his home in Wellington for 8 years, playing the part of world traveller and itinerant musician. His earliest recordings reflect this impermanent state with stark, minimalist folk, fastidiously recorded straight to tape. The tags on his music on Bandcamp read: analogist, documentarian, folk, outsider, and that will definitely get you started in understanding where this Kiwi is coming from. Timothy Blackman’s music is like the ghost of Woody Guthrie, couch surfing in a never-ending house show limbo.
Beneath the surface of the every day, there is a world, beyond the sight of the practically minded waking world. This is the world of no-fi cassette labels, technicolor trihawks, scavenged furniture transformed into junk art altars to obsolescence, passion and revolution. In the article Only What Is Dead Can Live Forever in the book Blown Horizonz, music journalist David Z. Morris (which we will be reviewing shortly) does a bang-up job describing the glory of the fucked up DIY scene of Iowa City, IA, home of Racc-oo-oo-n, Wet Hair, Emeralds. He really captures the hopes & dreams, the masochistic work ethic, the feeling of living in yr own little world, waiting for the masses to go to bed so we can y the streets for our ninja bike rides, our homemade rituals. On one hand, this world is the most humble and homespun imaginable, truly NO BIG DEAL, just kids DOING THEIR THING. But on the other hand, these denizens of DHS offices are the rightful heirs to the jewelled crown of glory; the caretakers of liberty; dream-spinners, recasting the world the way they want it. They will stop at nothing.
Everyone Needs Something To Hold On To is a wonderful example of the entirety of this basement show metaverse. It is coming from a humble, homemade background, but it has become mature, fully-realized. Blackman’s earlier lo-fi recordings have been fleshed out with cello, trumpet, violin, mandolin, piano and organ, and lushly captured in a hi-fi recording studio, courtesy of Timothy Armstrong at The Chapel of Futuna, in Wellington.
Like i said in that ADR review the other day, first impressions rely so much these days on sonic fidelity, and shitty recording, production, or sound quality can immediately turn off casual listeners. I have legitimately churned rooms full of daywalkers into fury with 128k witch house remixes. Timothy Blackman’s music goes lovingly to tape, handcrafted and exquisitely mixed, and there is nothing sharp or abrasive to break the spell. It invites you to listen, over and over, to fall under its spell, to live with it like a comfortable loveseat.
Once he has grabbed yr attention, you begin to notice how intensely honest and upfront this music is, almost painfully so. Here is a man who will show you every fault, every blemish. He will tell you anything. This was one of the initial aspects that attracted me to folk/country/blues music, was its raw confessional quality. I was sick to fucking death of studio gimmickry, plus i didn’t have any of those shiny toys, and was forced to learn to appreciate old-fashioned songwriting, musicianship, and heart. Timothy Blackman has all of those things, in spades, and more besides.
So what you have here is a man willing to cross half of the globe, to follow this humble music being made in editions of twelve, willing to meet up with a nearly homeless would- be journalist to give him a copy of his new CD. Here’s a man who left home for 8 years, and returned to make something beautiful. He is the definition of dedicated, and it is this kind of fanaticism which we lovingly endorse, at Forestpunk.
So check out this treasure from down under, invite him in for late afternoon tea. Stop and listen, he’ll tell you a tale.