Timber Timbre get dystopic

An interview with the Montreal band about their latest record Sincerely, Future Pollution.

Timber Timbre Sincerely future pollution
Timber Timbre — Sincerely, Future Pollution

Sincerely, Future Pollution is a creeper.

The latest LP by Montreal’s Timber Timbre segues from the kind of carnal cabaret jams we got to know on their last record Hot Dreams to churning funk tunes to a series of minimal sci-fi songs that wouldn’t feel out of place in an ’80s movie (or robot cowboy TV show). Written and recorded in Montreal and France in the first half of 2016, the record came before Trump’s election (and before Westworld), but global affairs were dark enough to inspire a dystopic vision.

“We were seeing these people on TV who were running for the highest office in the world, and it was kind of a joke, but it was also very dark, along with everything that happened beforehand in Europe,” says Mathieu Charbonneau. “With the travelling we’ve done, crossing borders, and being in France when that stuff happened in 2015, it definitely tainted the recording. It was an international feeling that was boiling up.”

Terrorist attacks, the mass migration of war refugees and the lead-up to Brexit and Trump are reflected in what Charbonneau describes as the “uneasiness” of the narratives on Sincerely, Future Pollution. But the music came first.

“Taylor (Kirk) had written frameworks for 10 or 11 songs and we had talked a lot about musical influences like the Blade Runner and Terminator soundtracks — you know, smoke coming out of the ground. That gave us an idea of the mood, and the lyrics that came later made sense with what we were doing.”

Urban decay has a distinct presence on the record, but that’s not necessarily a reflection of Montreal’s infrastructure issues, according to Charbonneau.

“I don’t think it’s particular cities that (Taylor is) referencing — there’s a little bit of that everywhere. We were writing in Montreal, but then we recorded in this beautiful village outside of Paris, which wasn’t exactly dystopic.”

Given the current popularity of Vangelis, Wendy Carlos and other soundtrack composers of the ’70s and ’80s, not to mention the tsunami of synth music that dominated that era, Timber Timbre distinguish themselves from other synth-wave pretenders by marking this record with a strong sonic imprint of their own. Six albums into their career, the band’s musical identity is dominant, no matter what direction inspiration takes them. But as Charbonneau explains it, they’re hardly immune to nostalgia, despite the fear that we may be living a retro future.

“Those records and those movies from when we were growing up in the ’80s, all that dark stuff — back then it was science fiction, but maybe we’re in that right now.” ■

Timber Timbre perform at Olympia (1004 Ste-Catherine E.) on Friday, June 2, 8 p.m., $40.85

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