Tim Kinsella - Field Recordings of Dreams Released February 1st, 2007
I Had An Accident Records
What would’ve been dismissed by my impulsive preference in earlier years has, fortunately, come at just the right time; falling somewhere towards the middle of my musical-penchant’s Renaissance (of sorts). The individualist rep, the limited vinyl pressings, the only iPod in the county that is devoid of any familiar band the average Casey Kasem “American Top 40” listener could point out; this is the path Tim Kinsella, amongst others, have led me down. Somewhere between my “reactionary rejection” of Southern incompetence and estranged stance on country music as a whole, opinions on whether Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s singer is an asset/hindrance to the band or if Slint’s Spiderland is one of the best albums ever released have never really met with me face to face, and therefore my perspective of Kinsella’s fifth solo album, Field Recordings of Dreams, is purely my own.
Almost 40 releases, through various bands, into his career, Tim has rarely lost focus in setting a different criterion for originality in the music we hear day to day. That’s not his intention, however, but merely the bi-product of his ingenuity in getting his point across in distorted lyrics (in this album’s case: straightforward) and desperate, often times, sparse instrumentation. The aforementioned “straightforward” branding on Tim’s lyrics this time around, which are usually anything aside from, couldn’t be a better word to describe. Field Recordings… is composed of 16 tracks, three of which contain spoken word ponderings. Think of Tim sitting down with a recorder discussing philosophy and symbolic stories around a violent baseball game. Don't think this is your average college professor lecture, though. Tim plays along with some high-brow material, while keeping it relatively tongue-in-cheek, typical of his fashion. While this sounds far from interesting for those unacquainted with “Kinsella-ology”, his articulation of particular feelings, notions, imagery, etc. is absolutely beautiful.
“A cross in its most immediate moment of recognition must mean intersection. So what’s so threatening about people’s reactions to intersection? That the historic dominant powers needed to hang a gory corpse on it, to lock what door it may potentially open. Intersection is mind and body, time and space. Course we’re out of time. We were never in it to begin with.”
‘Pretentious’ is an adjective most throw out when faced with some of Kinsella’s over-the-head meanderings, but when you get into the space of it and the album’s overall “nighttime in nature” feel, it really sinks in as a profound experience, even through the 35+ minute story about a boy facing inevitable humiliation when forced to pitch in baseball against his own will, setting up a juxtaposition with the coach, Mr. Pepper, and his inability, or possibly disinterest, in defending the new pitcher.
On the flip side, however, Field Recording…’s instrumental tracks will appeal more than Kinsella’s philosophical sit-downs. “Intro: A Grave Affectation” couples a rotating acoustic guitar with distant whistles, slowly bringing in an outdoorsy feel that will be reiterated in bird chirps and other various animal calls in “Monkey Heartbeat Departure Hour”. Speaking of, all of the animal sounds and grass ruffling (“A 4-Way Game of Chess…”) are said to be actual recordings taped, along with the music as well, between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., hence the album titled Field Recordings of Dreams.
While the instrumentation maintains a theme fairly well, it lacks when compared to Kinsella’s previous efforts. Missing Tim simply playing the guitar and singing the blues on previous solo ventures makes me regret spending time listening to rotary guitar-play and electronically dense bridges on “Piss On Glass Mall Waterfall #3” or persistently in-your-face harmonica leads in “I Dream’t I’d Already Dreamed All my Dreams Before”. On the subject of old releases, a Joan of Arc-like “filler” can be found on “A Tune Is As Close As the Cat Gets To A Diamond”, a Captain Beefheart reference and an eclectic electronic track that manages to maintain a backbone in spite of the electronic “swipes” and “stutters” constantly circulating the ambient sound scape. Though not the best instrumentals Kinsella has put out over his career, they'll allure old fans and fans of electronically-snug guitar meanderings alike.
The very essence of Tim’s work has always been about accessibility-through-inaccessibility for me. His meditative, almost brooding, spoken word discussions are some of his most insightful material to date. If you have the patience and care enough to listen through Kinsella’s flawless articulation and instrumental collages, he’ll have done his job in opening listeners’ minds to the corrupt, everyday activities, etc that he seems all but happy with.
This review is a user submitted review from Scott Irvine. You can see all of Scott Irvine's submitted reviews here.
Like I said on the joan of arc forum this album is Tim K's best. I do not really see how a cd like this can be ignored and under appreciated. Its layered with a philosophical wit and voice bled struggle, but yet comfortable and relaxing. Try it, if you have not yet.