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Timonium - Resist Education

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Artist: Timonium

Album: Resist Education

Label: Pehr

Review date: Mar. 31, 2002

Golden State rock outfit Timonium has graced the cultured listening public with an album of beauty and darkness in the form of Resist Education, their first proper album since 1999’s Suspende Animation. The band’s core is comprised of drummer Adam Garcia and guitarist/vocalist Adam Hervey, who have been making music together under the guise of Timonium since 1994. On Resist Education, the band is rounded out by guitarist James Rawson and bassist Tracy Uba, the latter of whom contributes the lion’s share of the album’s vocals.

The first cut on the album, “Crushed Discs,” opens with a sinister, sinuous electronic snarl, layers that just keep adding, gradually accumulating guitar arpeggios, syncopated drumming, and Uba’s compelling vox. The spidery threads of Hervey and Rawson’s guitar come together to form an aural web designed to ensnare the listener. The song begins to build in tension with washes of ghostly, ringing guitar tones, though it never escapes the anxious buildup with a climax that has become so cliché in rock music. Though Uba’s lyrics are nearly indecipherable and her voice is level and smooth, it is incredibly beautiful within the context of the music that Timonium makes.

The sense of foreboding instilled by “Crushed Discs” is replaced by a feeling of peace in the second song, entitled “Inflatable Sculptures.” The composition is made of ocean and night sky, and it offers release into the free-floating aether that serves as a counterpoint to the opening track’s anxiety. The tones become entrancing patterns that untether the listener for the song’s two-and-one-half minute duration.

“Leave Me In Droves” begins with Hervey’s hushed vocal “before it snows/leave me in droves,” which is chased by a louder one-chord drone. The quiet/loud formula is replaced by atmospheric, ringing guitars and Uba’s lovely voice. Hervey rejoins, and the pairing of his voice with Uba’s is heavenly. The song’s auditory camera pulls back to reveal the cinematic scope that Timonium is so adept at creating.

“Continental Drift,” perhaps the highlight of the album, is built on the aching, glacial drifts of guitar feedback and Garcia’s stutter-step drumming. It’s a desolate, lonely noise that conjures an arctic emptiness, and Hervey again manages to tailor his vocal melody to the song’s empathic tone. At four minutes, Garcia begins to pound the drums in the time-honored fashion that signals an abrupt shift in dynamic. A swirling, frozen tempest of guitar and drum noise builds, and at this point, the listener may begin to realize that Resist Education is a very good album.

The record closes with the twenty-two minute instrumental hymn “Rae Luce,” and again we find Timonium exploring resonance, texture and ambiance with chiming echo-chamber guitar and tranquil splendor. One could often fall asleep the music on Resist Education, but that statement is made in the most complimentary of ways, as it would be about albums like Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports, Belle and Sebastian’s The Boy With the Arab Strap, or the Places’ The Autopilot Knows You Best. While Timonium could easily be pigeonholed into categories or subgenres of music that are popular or convenient, one would be neglecting the band’s dedication to detail and their unique viewpoint and interpretation. Resist Education is an excellent album that shows the music a band can make when they find their sound.

By Andy Cockle

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