Timber Timbre And Fiver: Two Takes On An Unsettling And Alluring Tale

Timber Timbre's latest album, 'Hot Dreams,' is out now. (Jeff Bierk/Courtesy of the artist)
Timber Timbre’s latest album, ‘Hot Dreams,’ is out now. (Jeff Bierk/Courtesy of the artist)

In my head I have this movie that blends spaghetti Western with noir horror and gritty urban antiheroes — full of stark widescreen landscapes, neon-lit clubs, and unseen creepies lurking in the shadows. That film would be set to the languid cinematic songs of Timber Timbre — a band that embodies both the unsettling and the alluring on its third album, Hot Dreams.

Timber Timbre is primarily the work of frontman Taylor Kirk, along with Simon Trottier’s lavish arrangements that recall the works of composers Lalo Schifrin and Ennio Morricone and a sort of dreary doo wop-meets-psychedelic soul. On Hot Dreams, Kirk returns to familiar themes of daydreams and nightmares, love, longing, and violence — and he sings in a detached yet seductive tone, with both a self-knowing wink, and no doubt, just the slightest gleam of menace in his eyes. And like so many groups built around such a singular vision, it’s hard to imagine this music without Kirk’s persona and his dusky croon floating above it all.

That is, until you hear this alternate version of the Hot Dreams standout song, “Curtains?!” — this time, sung by Fiver, a.k.a. Toronto-based vocalist Simone Schmidt.

Kirk and Schmidt co-wrote “Curtains?!” — a vintage organ rocker, that in Kirk’s voice is told from the perspective of a man whose life is crumbling after having his hidden secrets exposed. “Curtains, I could have it all,” he muses. But in Fiver’s hands, the song takes on a new identity: Where Kirk is eerie, Schmidt is sensual and brooding — as if sung in some hazy lounge by the femme fatale who played some part in this man’s hubristic undoing and has her own secrets and regrets. It’s a subtle shift, but one that allows you to hear a terrific song with fresh ears.

Here’s what Fiver (a.k.a. Simone Schmidt) says about this song:

“The words of this song first come from a character who’s waking to the consequences of some bad theatrics he’s played out in life. The curtains figure several times: first to conceal a window, second a hospital bed, and both are likened to those of the stage. That’s the version Taylor sings. Fiver’s characters sings a slight variance on the words, from the other side of the curtains, reworking in her head what she might have have done differently in order to have turned a better outcome. The vocal delivery’s stripped of the dramatics, revealing an inability to perform anymore, a resignation to having been exposed.”