As I entered Ottawa’s National Arts Centre last Thursday, I couldn’t help but feel like it had been too long since I last saw a show there. I had been waiting for several months in quiet anticipation for this year’s season opener of the NAC Presents series, featuring the notorious creepsters known as Timber Timbre. I spent quite some time familiarizing myself with their catalog, imagining what this band could possibly bring to the table on September 18. I took to my seat in the NAC Studio, an incredibly cozy and intimate indoor amphitheater with absolutely stunning sound quality. Finally the house lights went down, and a piercing pink neon sign went up. The square illuminated sign began to etch two words into my retinas. It read “Hot Dreams”.
The quartet walked on stage lit only by that bold sign hanging at the back of the stage. The immediate soft red lights barely lit the band from behind, and that would prove to be the only lighting change for the duration of the performance. The four silhouettes began to play, and immediately the entire room was filled with a certain eeriness. It was delightfully unsettling. I resigned myself to entering Timber Timbre’s frightening world, and in doing so the uneasiness gave way to strange comfort. I have no sense of how long the show actually carried on for, but for the duration I was transported to incredibly imaginative and unique places by a band whose faces I could not see. Vocalist and guitarist Taylor Kirk stood twenty feet away from me throughout the set, and I still could not have described him.
In that incredibly close atmosphere, the music was able to take complete hold over the audience. Every member of the crowd sat completely silent, either too entranced or too frightened to try to break Timber Timbre’s spell. Their music has a certain minimalism, allowing space to invade between each note. Every sound is deliberate, calculated. Every harmony lingers long enough to digest. Crooning, shivering vocals are backed by subtle and strong drums, low, rumbling guitars, and ghastly synthesizers. Combining folk, country, rock, and soul, Timber Timbre took us all through an array of styles soaked in an atmospheric and mysterious energy. I felt like I could have remained rooted to my chair until the sun came up, as long as the music never stopped.
If the NAC Presents series has more shows of this caliber coming, I certainly won’t be one to miss it. Take a look at the full lineup for the season here.