Taylor Kirk, founder and leader of Montreal trio Timber Timbre, calls his newest release an omen from a dystopian future civilization, but insists it's not a political statement and definitely not about you-know-who. Their fourth album, Sincerely, Future Pollution, comes out April 7 on Arts & Crafts/City Slang. When it was first announced with the eerie first single "Sewer Blues," Kirk made the statement acknowledging the album's tone of "utter chaos and confusion" may be a reaction to the "very difficult time" — the American election. (It prompted NPR to declare the song "A grim take on America's future.") But he now tells Exclaim! that the message was never supposed to sound so overt.
"I do wish I had not illuminated those elements about the recording," Kirk admits. "This is the trouble with trying to express some critical thought, maybe for the first time, in a way that's not so ambiguous. Over the years, I've really enjoyed the privilege to just be working out my shit in my music and not having to be political, mostly because of where I am in the world. In the last year, in this current climate, it does seem irresponsible to not comment. But I'm not an activist. I would never be so literal."
Sincerely, Future Pollution was recorded at La Frette Studios — tucked into a 19th century mansion just outside of Paris, its previous clients include Nick Cave, Jon Anderson of Yes, Salif Keita and Feist. There, Timber Timbre had access to an eclectic collection of vintage synths and drum machines, which Kirk says had a notable effect on the album's overall sound palette. But the nine songs were already written back in Montreal, where Kirk has been thinking a lot about urban growth and its impact in transforming our daily lives.
"More and more, we're becoming societies of people who live in cities, and there's a kind of isolation to it," he says. "The idea for the record was sort of parallel civilization, an ancient future or dystopian civilization that was sending a message in the form of a time capsule for us, now. It's an attempt to reach across time."
In the much nearer future, Timber Timbre kicks off a European tour April 6, with Canadian dates in late April and early May as well as a set at Toronto's Field Trip festival in June. Fans who recall Kirk's early years on stage, where he was known for shadowy introspective performances, may be surprised to hear he's embraced his inner rock star a little.
"We're just excited to play shows again. This thing that I used to hate so much, I really miss it, and need it, and love it. I used to insist we remain this three-piece that was not drums / bass / guitar that was not loud and not about selling beer. I wasn't catering to that mechanism. I wanted to play in churches and community centres. But at some point I surrendered to the idea of playing the songs the way they sound on the recording, with a band, with some stage lighting and not in total darkness, like a real concert. And it works!"
UPDATE (4/6, 12 p.m. EDT): You can now watch Timber Timbre's new "Grifting" video below.