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Music Review: Timecube – Timecube

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Advertisers have skillfully taught us to take pride in being "the first person on our block" to own this product or buy this car, or especially to be the first to discover an artist before they hit the big-time. And that pride in being part of the consumer avant garde is justified when a group like Timecube comes along.

The guys at Timecube have been at it for years and it shows. Eric Fillip – aka "White Sexual Chocolate," complete with trademark Wafro – mans the drums and percussion masterfully, and acts as a stabilizing force throughout the project. Shane Dignan's guitar riffs add a blessedly disruptive element to an album that might otherwise be more understated and mellow. And Joshua Thomson's contribution on the Alto and Soprano saxophone give the songs a smooth, jazzy feel that lends a certain coolness to the music. Timecube's versatility and range gives the self-titled project that "something for everybody" feel that typically results in great music.

Timecube starts with a brief, comical interlude, not unlike those done by M.F. Doom. "Slight Neurosis" is a fusion of smooth jazz and rock and roll, an internal struggle between the smoky bar and the stadium-filling break-the-guitar rock and roll show.

The album truly comes alive with "Zabat! Zabat!" The third song of Timecube is the exact opposite of our third month, March: it comes in like a lamb and leaves like a lion. Among friends for whom I've played Timecube, "Zabat! Zabat!" is far and away the fan favorite.

"Micaela," which Thomson tells me is about a young woman he once knew – ask him for the details – is carried largely by Dignan's guitar. "Nyquil Daydream" is more of the trippy, psychedelic Pink Floyd-meets-Led Zeppelin variety, the kind of song that you can play, lowly, in the background as a "life soundtrack" or listen as you're counting sheep and trying to fall asleep.

Fusion is the name of the game on Timecube because its artists are constantly pushing their tastes and their range. At its heart, Timecube is a jam band. Its collection of past and present collaborators encompass a wide range of skills, and they're always looking for new influences to draw from and new artists with whom they can collaborate.

"End of an Era" is a fitting send-off, and perhaps Timecube's own way of social commentary via music. For all the genres that Timecube brings together, the one thing it doesn't take advantage of is the vocalist. They prefer to allow the music to speak for itself, and would rather no one be known to the media or its fanbase as "the leader" in what is a team effort. The guys in Timecube don't mind sharing the credit and allowing each others' s abilities to shine through.

When I last spoke to Thomson he was in Austin, Texas in advance of the South by Southwest Festival (music portion: March 12-16), going that time-honored route of selling CDs from the trunk of his car, all in the name of putting asses in the seats and building an audience that appreciates Timecube's unique sound despite its lack of radio play and television time. Such is the life of the upstart artist. You might not see them on MTV's "TRL" anytime soon, but that also gives them the independence to create music, their way, without the encumbrances of developing radio-friendly hooks and the homogenization that soon follows.

Timecube was produced to the effect of "leaving you wanting more." When the Red Hot Chili Peppers had 28 songs to bring to market for Stadium Arcadium, they initially planned to produce four, 7-song albums, one every few months, to whet their appetites for the next one. In the end they settled on a double album with 14 songs each.

"Cats like the Chili Peppers can do that," Thomson explained, adding that Timecube's choice to go the more CDs-fewer songs route makes more sense for a band trying to build its audience. A seven-song EP feels like less of a commitment than would a 12 song LP, even if the lengths are roughly equal. Timecube gives curious music lovers a low-priced "taste" of their music that will make the average music listener more apt to invest in longer efforts in the future.

"Just a taste for now," Thomson says. Those interested in getting that taste should visit Timecube's MySpace page and contact the guys directly. Their website displays three tracks free of charge – including the popular "Zabat! Zabat!" and "Helmutt," recorded in 2003, which does not appear on the album.

But don't take my word for it. Check it out for yourself — you just might be the first one on your block to hear it.

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About James David Dickson

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