Know Your Product
Timothy Dalton: Modern Thrift
Published: October 5, 2011
More or Less
Timothy Dalton is listed on his label’s web site as just from “deep in the mountains.” Presumably, they’re some mountains in Maryland seeing that he’s DJing Dionysus next month and this debut EP is out on Baltimore techno-plus label More or Less. And you don’t normally think of mysterious weirdos in the hills making techno—or minimal techno or ambient techno, somewhere in the middle really—but it’s also easy enough to consider guy-and-a-laptop as not all that far away in spirit from guy-and-a-guitar: introverted, solitary music that perhaps isn’t participating as much in the big-city culture stew. Which is sometimes an asset in the field of new music.
With straight-up fantastic new records from Gui Boratto and the Field out this year, it’s tempting to think that ambient techno, or the lusher, poppier side of minimal, might make a bit of a comeback, at least in the indie mainstream, if not the mainstream-mainstream. Anyhow, Dalton as a musician would find somewhat familiar company in the above-mentioned producers, although he’s chasing after notably weirder and more tech-y sounds, at least in the beat department. For example, “Dreamlands” opens in short, slow waves of feedback-y yet blissed-out guitar and Twin Peaks synth before shifting into a more downtempo beat pattern, becoming a kind of slow-motion skitter. It’s capped by a sublimely strange vocal sample that has the neat effect of making the song both more human and more alien at the same time. Of the four tracks here, including one remix, “Dreamlands” is the one I find myself returning to most.
“Modern Thrift” is a close contender. The beat is quick, the song slow and skeletal. There’s a bassline, creep-synth, and a bit of noise, but the track’s meat is a dialogue from something sci-fi that might be obvious enough that I’m embarrassing myself by not knowing it. Anyhow, the subject is some harsh interstellar diplomacy: Add some deadpan delivery and some reverb, and it’s oddly mesmerizing. Meanwhile, the record’s opener, “Atmosphere,” is the most straightforward thing here, a quick, stripped-down/minimal beat-plus-synth wash. It’s not unsuccessful, but kinda misses something extra its EP brethren have. I could also take or leave the peak-hours remix of “Modern Thrift” that comes at the end, done by Virginia label Stir Sound’s Ian Funk. Not shitty so much as unexpectedly jarring.
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