Tim Cohen – The Two Sides of Tim Cohen

January 01, 1970

(Empty Cellar)




Songwriter Tim Cohen has lately been making a moderate
splash with psychedelic Fresh & Onlys, his garage-psychedelic collaboration
with Shayde Sartin of Skygreen Leopards. That band is already on track for two
records in 2009, the first, a self-titled, out this spring, the second, Grey-Eyed Girls, coming in September. Two
a year is a pretty good pace, but, apparently, not enough to use up all Cohen’s
written material. His solo LP, a vinyl-only dozen songs, serves as a kind of
musical sketchbook, its line-drawn surreal imagery wrapped in home-recorded
echo and low-budget Beach Boys harmonies. The
Two Sides of Tim Cohen
is sparser, eerier and more acoustic than either
Fresh & Onlys album, bearing roughly the same relation to full-band efforts
as Barrett solo to Pink Floyd, or Tyrannosaurus Rex to T. Rex.  Several of the songs – “Haunted Hymns” and
“Burn My Martyr” for instance – sound a good deal like earlier Cohen’s work
with Black Fiction, freeform folk phantasms floating on prefab hip hop-ish
beats, a la “I Spread the Disease”.   


An inward-looking, vague and dreamlike aura hangs over these
dozen songs, with sheer musical prettiness often coinciding with disturbing
lyrical imagery. Starter “Amazing Visions” has a translucent quality, guitar
strums and lightly breathed vocals coalescing in narcotic clouds. Its lyrics,
though, incorporate unsettling descriptions of birds and worms entering and
exiting various body cavities, a meditation either on creativity or death or
both. Gorgeous closer “Warriors & Clowns” is similarly dream-ridden,
flutters and bursts of guitar picking under ghostly murmurs about enraged
bulls, lovers and fighters. There are quasi-pop songs in between, skewed but
more structured. “Unjeweled Splendor” bangs out four-four piano chords in
praise of female beauty, a haunted echo of sometime Fresh & Onlys patron
Kelley Stoltz. “Take Aim Goliath” is soft-focus garage-psych, guitar and drums
ramble slicked over with gauzy indeterminacy.


The album comes with a download code that yields five
additional tracks, none of them throwaways and one, “Emerald Green,” among the
best of the lot. Still more suggestive than fully-realized, the cut is
embellished with gently massed voices and the faraway echo of trumpet, split in
two by a wandering guitar solo, and finished by a weirdly paced drum fill. Yet
though the pieces may not fit together seamlessly, they do create a bit of a
world, brightly colored, imprecisely perceived, full of surprises and
altogether fascinating.


Standout Tracks:
“Warriors & Clowns”, “Amazing Visions”, “Emerald Green” JENNIFER KELLY



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