TIM ARNOLD: Super Connected (TA Music)
Where a projects arrives at can often be somewhat beyond the initial spark of inspiration. An audio transcript of the journey. Such is the case with Tim Arnold's slab of sexy prog funk Super Connected, a superbly realised concept album that gives that much maligned term a new good name. Initially his swipe at humanity and its oversubscription to digital convenience and reliance, Arnold has delivered an eloquent statement without ever descending into a diatribe. Subtle and accomplished this is a a work of timely warning. A message and plea for consideration and restraint, it is also a soundtrack to his film of the same name.
Things begin with the appropriately named "Start With The Sound," a startlingly, slightly giddy polka that develops into a mesmeric mantra of considered joy. Think Peter Gabriel in cahoots with Vaughan Williams.
"Committed and speechless
Viewing time has recommenced
What's the difference?
Useless feelings we don't fight against"
A song of muscular elegance, dynamic and soaring yet incessantly catchy.
"Super Connected" reeks of mid period Prefab Sprout with elements of Bowie in Nile Rogers guise. Iggy Pop has compared Arnold to his old mentor, a consideration that is shrewdly on point as this song so perfectly proves.
"You Like My Pictures" is a laconic swipe at the vacuous need implicit in much social media neediness. Again there's a casual Peter Gabriel conceit. Think "Sledgehammer" with a twist in its tail. Commercial but with qualified quality.
An electro pop vibe in collusion with Talking Heads and the largely forgotten 'M'. A jittery sermon or a plea for cool funky fun.
"You like my pictures. I know you do
And so do all your funny friends
They like my pictures too"
"The Touch Of A Screen" is a mesmeric ballad suggestive of Porcupine Tree and Japan. A moody madrigal crossed with a hymn in psych folk melancholy which shows Arnold at his plaintive best. A plea from the soul to the heart of the matter in blessed sublimation and grief. A song with the epic sweep of early Radiohead.
"Still you don't feel anything
Now that you're touching everything"
"Start A Conversation" wears a haunting guitar motif and a husky intimate vocal. A prayer and a plea it possesses an innate grace and power. The musical equivalent of arms outstretched to the sky.
"Do you remember how we locked eyes
From spring to summer to fall
And all of the winter?"
The dulcet tones of Stephen Fry is suggestive of a rather spooky magician referencing Homer in "A Commercial Break" which resembles a hypnotist's preamble.
"Everything Entertains" has a surreal chamber baroque sixties confection as its heart. Stridently eloquent like The Left Banke on speed. Amphetamine sunshine bottled and preserved. Pure and perfect pop effortlessly crafted and realised
"Send More Light" deploys a plaintive piano sourced ballad drenched in pathos and reminiscent of early Elton John. Perfectly captured it builds to a soaring crescendo that Adele would kill for.
Mr Fry again appears at the start of "The Complete Solution" as a shrewdly commercial MC before disappearing under an insistent pattern of drums that would render it and all its jagged guitars brokenly at home on the soundtrack of Trainspotting it closes with a strangely militaristic rap.
"Where Am I In All Of This?" combines a driven piano and drum battle and a alienated Sargent Pepper vibe. An extraordinarily masterful slice of songcraft that almost leaves the rails as it chainsaws aspects of "Mind Games" -- Lennon at his angst angry best.
"Sell a kidney to get into Disney World
Where am I in all of this?"
The dystopian edge gets sharper in "Finally Everybody's Talking" in which spooky sophistication pervades this blip embellished tone poem that references those Kraut Rock emissaries Faust and Can.
"Finally everybody's talking
But they're talking all at once"
A perfect little couplet that grows in wisdom via its insistent repetition. A paranoid but eloquent surmising.
Uptempo and chatty with a sensuous flexibility of jaunty moments "Make Me All Right" is underscored by an infectious beat that flies out of the speakers and ends with a nonchalant choir.
"What if all the systems disappeared forever?
What if all our messages were swept away?
Would you remember me
Without a selfie?"
Tim Arnold has created the perfect zealot's tract for the modern world. Crafted largely via Zoom during lockdown, this testament of despair flies in the face of the delusion of being connected via screens and images. It is also proof that artistry can be maintained with limited means. A work of eloquence, elegance and grace that should conquer the world it rails against by allowing it into the eyes and ears of others whilst using the means it derides to do so.
Out now - (https://ditto.fm/super-connected-tim-arnold_)