Tim Arnold: Maybe Magic (TA Music)
All creative enterprises pertain to an aspect of diary keeping, a concept of remembrance. Maybe Magic is Tim Arnold's second response to the isolation of lockdown and he has utilised the time upon his hands with remarkable aplomb via a collection of songs that are both meditations and the expressive evidence of that process. A thing of beautiful indulgence, a series of reference points, shared and distilled as a gift for others to enjoy.
The springboard for these songs was the revival of his fascination with the guitar tunings of American guitarist, the late Michael Hedges whose techniques proved a source of inspiration combined with a sense of bedevilment.
Complex and freeing, what emerges is a soaring beauty, deceptive in its apparent simplicity, a mixture of Pink Moon Nick Drake and Hunky Dory David Bowie, as a myriad of other reference points lay their claim on the album's fleeting reflections.
Proceedings begin with the infectious "Guides" a spirited litany of influences, and one we should all attempt to annotate. A burst of joy, its cavalcade of characters from Yoko Ono to Quentin Crisp, Lenny Bruce to Virginia Woolf; a veritable confetti of names.
"They are turning into me
And I am turning into you"
An inspired outburst of acknowledgement.
"The Spectrum Of Life" is a loose blues meander akin to Beck's sublime "Loser" in tango with "The Age Of Aquarius" from the rock musical Hair. It has a hypnotic mantra-like aspect. The instrumental "Hypnogogic Logic" cascades like water over sunlit stones, a beguiling and soothing piece where the music does the talking.
"Dream In Tight" is a quiet anthem reaching upwards whilst being suggestive of gospel choirs, it requires none to deliver its message of striving and desire for a companionship of souls.
"It's starting to sound familiar
But altogether entirely new
The will that wants to thrill you
Is driving everything I do"
With "Shine Your Light" there resides elements of Fleetwood Mac's early masterpiece of introspection "Man Of The World," a confessional aspect imbued with a reflective honesty, both a confirmation of reality and a positive spark of hope.
"You might hear craziness spoken up and under
Of the amazing mess we made of this world
But there's still wonder"
"Brighter Squared" possesses an inherent looseness it seems to be falling apart as it meanders into life as conversational intimacy suggestive of a chorister who already knows too much. a wisdom in excess of tender years.
"Light shines brighter squared
I'm trying hard to get it into my head"
"Catch That Flame" contains a contemplation of dissidence and difference, of breathing to be, cushioned by a bed of sensual guitar, reminiscent of Tin Drum by Japan.
"We wonder why others are so different
We never ask why we are the same"
There's a jauntiness of Suzanne Vega and Tracy Chapman in "Opening Doors," a contrivance of philosophy in a subtle and commercial radio friendly song. A conspiracy of neatness.
"Most of my life I've fallen through
Opening doors. They show without warning
They're for you but no sign they're yours"
A perfect closer emerges in the restrained epic "Questioning Answers" which has an almost prog-like vastness, it simmers, grows and burns like a collision between Dream Academy and early Yes. The closing lines, a perfect parting shot.
"But I'm tired of asking questions
So I'm questioning answers now"
This remarkable collection captures three intense weeks in the creative life of an artist who was working alone without an audience in mind. It is an aural patchwork, a stitching together of random elements that are far from random, once combined. It also marks Tim Arnold's return to painting, a gift he abandoned almost three decades ago to follow his dream of becoming a rock star. Some talents in their latency, simply sleep, and the cover of the album, a cat with wings emerging from a box against background of gold and deep blues, suggesting his collaborator Lindsay Kemp returned in white feline form.
The entire collection is steeped in "Discordianism," the concept that order and disorder are ideas the human nervous system imposes upon the universe. The collection's title comes from Robert Anton Wilson. A near perfect distillation of moments that remain thus contained in the confection now labelled Maybe Magic.
Listen to Maybe Magic here: https://lnk.to/maybemagic