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31 May 2010

Tim Buckley - 'Lorca' (Elektra)

'Lorca' (the song) has a great descending riff, the evil twin to Floyd's 'Interstellar Overdrive', and it feels amazingly focused, searching towards Buckley's own inner destructive soul. The electric piano steps forth, played by Lee Underwood in the same meandering, noodly style that he showed us on guitar those last few albums, but sounding like small burning solar flares. 'Anonymous Proposition' is the kind of song that exemplifies Lorca though - Buckley's own melody is strong and the band is floundering around him. Forty years of rock deconstruction followed but methinks this is a real stab at musical freedom through folk forms. By the time this gets to the end, it's like we're right back where we started, but we've felt. The rhythm section is what's missing - John Balkan's bass has become a lead instrument and apart from some congas (probably most obviously timekeeping on side two and a bit of 'Lorca', actually), we have a beast of a record. But the voice becomes the centre - the ultimate inversion of rock's rules, so already cast-in-stone by 1970 despite all the manic experimentation of the past few years. But this feels relatively uninfluenced by any of that. 'I Had A Talk With My Woman' has some bonafide pop hooks in it, but it continues the atmosphere set by the first side. Then 'Driftin'' enters the scene, which is slowed down miserable country-blues over a campfire ambience. I think of some of Neil Young's most miserable times on the beach when I hear this one, both in temperament and in Underwood's soloing. It ends with a frantic pace, as Buckley is wailing in his teen idol way but the band is cooking a brutal breakfast. I used to think of Lorca as split between side one's radical explorations and side two's more conventional tunes, or rather, they always seemed more like a continuation of Happy Sad/Blue Afternoon. But this time it sounds much more cohesive than I remembered. It's true that 'Lorca' and 'Anonymous Proposition' are the most radical in form, with 'Lorca' itself introducing some real dark juju. But the second side shouldn't be overlooked, just because it has a more rhythmic center. This is Buckley unleashed, and if you think of all three of these records (including the ones before and after) as coming out of the same sessions, then we really have a remarkably productive period of creativity for any one artist to claim.

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