One of the great things about being a solo artist is that you can control your music, the circumstances by which it is created and performed. It also allows you to create your own image, even your own mythology. Having played in many Australian acts over the years, guitarist Chris Timms has been flying solo for several years. His first album, The Journey Home was released in 2011 and found much appreciation. He returns with the appropriately titled The Second Chapter.
With little doubt, this album and the music within is about Chris Timms; it's a platform for his ambitious guitar skills. Fortunately for us, he's a better than average composer as well, putting both his arrangements and fret work into lightly technical progressive hard rock arrangements. But don't get me wrong: The Second Chapter is definitely a guitar-centered album, and not just from Timms, but also colleague Joel Hargraves, who gets some time to widdle as well.
Having said these things, and while I'm generally enticed by both the arrangements and guitar play, I found the overall experience rather emotionless. Some of this comes from Timms also doing the vocals. I definitely don't like his vocal style, nearly monotone and droning, almost immediately a huge turn off. Another angle that vexed my listening experience was the injection of the staccato tom drumming from whomever was playing the drums in various songs. It's not constant, but when it appears repetitively, it seems distracting.
There's also this feeling of sterile precision to the all of the players' performances, like flawless execution equals ingenuity and creativity. But can Timms execute? Yes, with near blind automoton steadiness. He is an exceptional guitar player. He echoes everything from neo-classical to rock jazz fusion in his repertoire. His play within Misguided Friend or No Longer Welcome Part 1 and 3 borders on genius. But that three part piece is likely Timms coup de'tat over everything here, especially when he's not singing or singing the least, as within Part 3.
Curiously, despite my expectations and reservations, Chris Timms is both a fine guitarist and somewhat of a myth-building marketing wizard. The Second Chapter includes a bonus DVD with the entire album in MP4 audio format, ready to patch into your iPod. It also includes 'in studio' live versions of No Longer Welcome, The Journey Home, and The Touch of God. Whether it's because you get a visual of his guitar wizardy and his band's support, these recordings put some soul into Timms, his band mates, and the songs. Yeah, that meticulous execution remains, and make you wonder if the actually did the songs in one take. But, at the very least, you get some sense of the humanity behind the music.
Basically, I think that is what frustrated me about Chris Timms and his music and, again, it's only a feeling: Timms seems a machine, but not without creativity, punching out his guitar lines with the accuracy of a bottling assembly line. However, I suspect some flaws, on-the-fly improvisation, and true feeling comes in a live performance. But maybe Timms is obssessive-complusive, a perfectionist at heart, and those live performances are nothing more than playing the CD in your home. Whatever. Speculation is a bitch. Timms is quite the impressive guitar player. The Second Chapter is easily recommended.
With The Second Chapter, Chris Timms give us his excetional guitar skills in a lightly progressive rock format, but delivered with a near automaton sterile delivery.
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