Friday, October 3, 2008

The New Yorker covers Timbaland

If you know anything about the magazine The New Yorker than it should surprise you that they recently did a story on how Timbaland has changed the music game and full review on Chris Cornell's album Scream. The article itself is nothing mind blowing but it's yet another example of how Timbaland is the greatest producer of our time. Check it out:

When you hear a rhythm that is being played by an instrument you can’t identify but wish you owned, when you hear a song that refuses to make up its mind about its genre but compels you to move, or when you hear noises that you thought couldn’t find a comfortable place in a pop song, you are hearing Timbaland, or school thereof.

So how come so much of their new collaboration, “Scream,” is so awkward? (The album is technically a Chris Cornell record, even though Timbaland’s production dominates.) Some of the mismatch feels purely formal. Timbaland’s métier is the mosaic: points of sound arrayed on digital black. It is literally digital music—sounds that turn on and off, like ones and zeros. (If he’s looking for a rock partner, it seems as though a speed-metal act might best fit Timbaland’s aesthetic.) Cornell works well against a big, unruly band—waves of guitar noise crusted with overtones, bass lines that resonate so heavily that they blur—but against Timbaland’s beats things get confusing.

Neither Cornell nor Timbaland sounds much like himself. When I first heard “Scream,” several months ago in Florida, Mosley’s wife, who is also his publicist, warned me against asking who played on the record. Unpacking the credits for “Scream” might be done best in the company of a lawyer. Here’s one line: “All songs written by Chris Cornell.” There is, however, an average of 4.77 songwriting credits for each song, and mentions of vocal production by Jim Beanz and instruments by Jerome Harmon. Um. “Songs.” O.K.

“Sweet Revenge” gets closer to a happy average. Cornell’s voice is strong, straining at its limits, and there is a sweetly multi-tracked bridge that works well against the rhythm, which percolates. The energy is up. But then comes the chorus, which includes a long Auto-Tuned warbling of the words “sweet revenge.” The robotic sound, aside from being past its sell-by date, could be anybody singing. “Never Far Away” could be one of the worst songs of the year, a rock ballad with all the bombast of Soundgarden yet with none of the heft or the force. The lyrics are like Bon Jovi with the fun sucked out, and could be moonlighting for an e-greeting-card site: “You are the road that I will travel, you are the words I write. You are the ocean I will swallow, you are the wind I ride.” Timbaland rarely puts sounds together in an infelicitous way: so why the swooping synth arpeggios? What we love about Timbaland is that so much of his music evades known templates, but figuring out what is happening on “Scream” is not, in large part, a pleasant hunt.

Full Article (2 Pages)

"Sweet Revenge" is yet another Chris Cornell track we haven't heard of yet.


  1. so many profiles... just someone do a biography on tim, because I've had enough of the "short bio" bit

  2. after reading the whole article, i think it is an extremely fair assessment of the nu sound... "awkward" is dead on... the thing is that Tim hasn't figured out what elements of his sound work in a rock context... and even tho i applaude Chris Cornell's passion 2 break the rules as rock once did late 60's early 70's... the lack of introspective/metaphoric lyrics and images so common in modern r&b/pop ruin the ride even more so than the use of digital blips that try 2 dance around Cornell's crisp cut thru voice...


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