A Difficult Future
Some Odd Pilot
By: Eric Greenwood
It would be easy to dismiss The Timeout Drawer's laborious instrumentals as retro-prog-rock wankery, but the arrangements have such depth and the analogue sounds such warmth and texture that it would be awfully shortsighted to do so. Moving away from the echoing chambers of crystalline arpeggios, which marked its debut, The Timeout Drawer ventures deep into the world of the Moog on its second full-length. The sparse and distant voices, which lightly peppered its debut, are also gone, allowing the band to focus fully on its carefully woven, often hypnotic grooves.
With rare exception, each song plods along with the same mind numbing, mid-tempo gait, but it's a deliberate effect. You will either be lulled into the Gary-Numan-on-Quaaludes-time-warp or simply fall asleep. When the tempo does pick up, as on "Dusty Planes And Daydreams Of Adventure", the spell is broken to reveal the skeleton of yet another Chicago-style post-rock outfit. The heavy-handedness with which the band delivers its instrumental tales of woe borders on unbridled grandiosity, but such pretentiousness is practically required of premeditated mood music such as this.
The distant icy cool artwork on Record Of Small Histories hinted at the wintry elegance of the music contained therein, just as the sun-glinted fluorescent emptiness on the cover of this album tells of its warm and spacious tones. The twisting Moog on "300 Years: 100 Pages" finally takes a back seat to a wall of distorted guitars, which you'll welcome with open arms. The drums sputter beneath the dramatic clash of jagged guitar noise and serene keyboards. It's a rare sign of life amidst all the artificial tones and textures.
The cheese factor pegs the red line occasionally, too, as eerily familiar sound effects, which probably freaked people out in, say, 1976, sound somewhat comical as a dramatic method in 2002. Thankfully, these moments are few and far between. And what would Gary Numan have been without a little cheese? Certainly not the same androgynous futuristic warrior we all know and love. A Difficult Future sounds more like a tormented past in a forgotten sci-fi film, but one that should be trotted out every now and again just to hear what it was like.