Threnody Ensemble - Timbre Hollow [All Tomorrow's Parties - 2003]A trio called Threnody Ensemble on Barry Hogan’s All Tomorrow’s Parties label, describing themselves as the best parts of Radiohead played by a chamber orchestra. Does that sound pretentious or what?
Dave Cerf, Erik Hoversten (both from the band A Minor Forest) and cellist Domique Davison are the members that form the Threnody Ensemble. This album, called Timbre Hollow, was already released by the New Albion label in the US, but after an invitation by Steve Albini to play at the alternative music festival All Tomorrow’s Parties, Barry Hogan insisted on releasing it in Europe.
The instrumental line-up consists of two acoustic guitars and a cello, and thus the comparison with post-rock is easily made. Even more when session musicians are brought in with piano, percussion, clarinet and violin. This is getting scary. Are you sure we’re not talking about Godspeed You! Black Emperor? No, we don’t. This is different. First of all, there are acoustic guitars, which makes this a more depleted version of GY!BE. Secondly, the compositions are on another level. The band does not choose to work towards musical climaxes, but rather stays silent with a few bombastic pieces here and there.
Timbre Hollow has certainly its influences taken from the crowded post-rock genre, but not all of it, and that’s a good thing – looking for some originality. The six tracks on this album are, composition and musical wise, build with (neo)classical music in the back of the members’ heads. That becomes clear when pompous and majestic parts sometimes take over the minimal droning acoustic guitar and cello sounds. The 23 minute long ThaRoman, divided into three parts is a good example of this, but the original three classical instruments line-up keeps dominating the picture, resulting in an experimental but above all quiet sound collage. The three other tracks - called Somewhere Near Denton, The Machine and Tension As Opposed To Tension – continue on the same foot.
With references such as GY!BE, Pink Floyd and Porcupine Three, the Threnody Ensemble has certainly not done anything wrong. But the sparse & slow music contains not enough interesting elements to tag this album as “good”. I’d rather say “average”. It’s worth a listen, yes, but would better be used as some sort of soundtrack to one movie or another. Pretentious indeed. Very nice artwork by the way.Justin Faase