An Introduction To The Band
Philm are a 3-piece outfit who play music that is rock but yet kind of isn’t. The band used to have Dave Lombardo of Slayer fame sitting in the drum seat but they sound nothing like that. Bands or artists that I noted whilst listening included Black Sabbath, Syd Barret era Pink Floyd, Beatles, Tom Waits, Hawkwind, The Doors, Nick Cave as well as Keith Emerson doing his piano jazz stylings.
It really is a diverse and odd mix of music and often times seems more like music to go with some arthouse movie. Reading the press release was interesting as it pointed out that the previously mentioned drummer had said the band were over without it seems telling the other 2 guys (who are Gerry Nestler who does vocals, guitar and keys and Pancho Tomaselli on bass duties) who had actually still been working together when Lombardo wasn’t around years ago. They found themselves a new drummer (a Grammy-winning one at that) called Anderson Quintero who is simply superb.
The Songs, An Attempt To Describe
As I said the music is all over the place with songs veering almost out of control at times. It is not an easy listen, anyone looking for verse, chorus, verse, chorus and fade had better look elsewhere. Anyone who likes a bizarre and challenging listen and likes any of the aforementioned outfits should find this entertaining. I certainly did.
I felt a lot of it was 60s based with quite a bit of jazz playing going on. For instance “Steamroller” opens with a death metal intensity and finds itself a Sabbath meets Voivod vibe but the drumming is definitely in the Bill Ward manner, swinging and deft yet thunderously heavy. Time Burner manages in its short running time to head into several territories and at points almost at the edge of chaos but never falling apart. It feels like edge of the seat playing which it certainly is as a listener.
“Spanish Flowers” has an animated video (called “A ritual of life and death carried out by 2 monks and a mourning priestess”, yes really!) which you can find at the bottom of the review. Musically the bass shines through with plenty of little percussive touches (it does sound like he is playing glasses at one point) along with a pipe organ, a Moog and some strings making it a disturbing listen.
Pay Attention For Sharks
“1942” is a fuzzy little number, a stoner but with great groove and probably has the most commercial chorus here. I did particularly like the guitar freak-out underpinned with strong bass (there are moments I wonder whether he uses a double bass on the album) and lots of little drum patterns. Again, listen to the drummer absolutely swing.
There are a couple of short pieces, “Wade Through Water” being the first of them which I described in my notes as “avant-garde jazz fusion” being a short rather discordant piano piece and seeming to incorporate the theme to the movie Jaws for a few seconds. “Evening Star” the second is more jazz with a Latin vibe running through it. Some of the piano is tasty in its improvisations.
“Wonka Vision” is funky with lyrics that mention the word “swing” and that is what they achieve, even when it goes completely metal with frantic guitar, screamed out vocals and the drummer pulling out all the stops in there too. I like the delivery on the lyric “I gave my heart away… too fast” near the end as well.
“The Seventh Sun” made me think of Faith No More at their most experimental especially with the vocalisations (between the lilting, the hushed and the screams) and the drums! “Like Gold” sounds like music from a 1940s film noir with the vocals having that Tom Waits story-telling thing going on. The best description I can manage is it is jazz with a voiceover, like in the detective movies featuring Sam Spade (if memory serves me correctly).
They end the album with the title and longest track at 11 minutes long. “Time Burner” is a jamming instrumental piece and apparently the first track they played live with the new drummer as well as being the first night they actually met him. It is late night music, piano led with gently cascading cymbals and a fat bass sound.
The new boy adds all sorts of deft touches enhancing the piece quietly in the background for large parts. It does heavy up and once again there is some crazy off-the-rails moments where you wonder if they are all playing the same tune, yet they always turn it around. I seem to remember there being some crazy music in one of the nastier scenes in the movie Angel Heart and this at points is similar, freaky, disturbing and cinematic. Amazing job with just the 3 guys.
This is a very good album with some exquisite musicianship but it’s not for everybody. If you hate jazz, prog rock or any form of noodling then go and listen to something more commercial as there is plenty of these going on here. There is however enough rock, metal and prog influences shining through to warrant folks attention here, I personally took to it, although there were bits on the first listen that didn’t quite grab me.
It is in my view as a non-musician (I have played guitar, at least a few years ago, but I certainly would never call myself an actual musician, that’s why I write as I can’t do, them’s the rules) a bit of a challenge at times and took a few listens. I definitely think I need to be in the right mood or frame of mind but when I am I am entertained immensely. Like or want something a bit different? Then Time Burner – on Metalville Records – is the album to go for. Give it a shot if you feel brave!
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