Toronto's Timber Timbre spellbound the Casbah at a recent show with their ominous set of creeped-out songs off their latest aptly titled release "Creep On, Creepin' On."
The three-piece stealthy walked onstage on June 12 decorated with three red construction lights positioned strategically before them. Frontman Taylor Kirk was nearly concealed by a sheen of red light, sitting at the far back of the stage so that only a silhouette could be seen. The audience responded like moths gravitating toward the light, unable to look at much of anything else; every attempt to see Kirk would result in a red-lit halo from the eye strain.
The set began with "Bad Ritual," off Timber Timbre's self-titled Arts & Crafts release. "Black Water" followed, offering, "All I need is some sunshine," in such a melancholy tone that it suggested images of ghoulish things that go bump in the night. Yet the setup was not so much kitschy as it was romantic. Just as a horror film seduces viewers, Timber Timbre wades into the dark places with their version of the blues. At times, with a devious croon, Kirk embodies M. Ward. It's as if something once spooked Kirk straight, so now he plays alone in the backs of bars. Instrumental interludes conjure a state of panic, followed by a sweet humming violin in tracks like "Creep On Creepin' On."
There was something suspenseful during the entire set, like there was a real chance that Kirk was just a phantom, singing in his milky baritone, hypnotizing us into a slumber, like we were all at the mercy of something bigger than the music.The band's cinematic minimalism focuses primarily on Mika Posen's keys, violin and drums. She was the most-visible musician, standing to the left of the stage, slicing the violin like a butcher shaves meat -- swift and decisively -- creating noises that emulated human screams, in between staccato busts of keys in jazz rhythm. In perfect time, she would alternate between drum beats and keys with expert accuracy.
Guitarist Simon Trottier was the most suspiciously usual, sitting casually on the right of the stage, with facial expressions less theatrical, just at ease.
There was very little banter from the band during the night; one might hope they would eventually break character, but just a few smoky words came from the voice at the back (Kirk): "This is the last day of tour, no need for banter." It was understood that they had lived in this dark space for the last few weeks; perhaps all they really did need was some sunshine, after all.
Nada Alic runs the San Diego-based music blog Friends With Both Arms and works in artist relations for the nonprofit organization Invisible Children. Follow her updates on Twitter or contact her directly.