Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Golden Fable, the off-shoot of Tim And Sam’s Tim and The Sam Band With Tim And Sam, didn’t unreservedly blaze a trail into this world last year. There was no declaration that Tim and Sam was no more and Golden Fable was described as a “new challenge” rather than a permanent fixture. Early songs were presented under the Tim and Sam Twitter account (now renamed) and their first single ‘The Chill Pt.2’ with just three repeated choruses felt largely instrumental as though the duo of Tim McIver and Rebecca Palin were trying to stress the link with their previous band. However the full debut album from Golden Fable, “Star Map” which came out last month a year on from that first single, is far from tentative. It’s a fully formed and highly accomplished realisation of the promise of those cautious beginnings.

Rather than trying to recreate pared down versions of the lush pastoral, post-folk instrumentals of their earlier elaborately named band, McIver and Palin have taken a bold sideways step. Their new venture combines electronic textures and sounds with acoustic instrumentation; and on this ten track album there’s only one instrumental (the tremulous ‘Lament’) with vocals duties split between the pair, Palin leading two songs for every one that McIver sings. Traces of their former musical venture are evident and there’s some cello, piano and classical-styled acoustic guitar bedding to the songs but it’s the electronica and the voices that draws the attention. Now processed beats even of the most amiable variety (the impatient, disco-friendly pulse of ‘Be Alive’ or the intricate shuffle of ‘The Chill Pt.2’) and washes of cool synthesizer may sound mechanically utilitarian plus there is a slightly aloof froideur on first encounter, but “Star Map” turns out to be a warm-hearted, soulful listen. The cathedral chorister-meets- Liz Fraser tones of Rebeca Palin on ‘Sugarloaf’ or ‘Always Golden’ are bewitching as she glacially glides from word to word. And the cautious frailty of Tim McIver’s vocals on opener ‘Guiding Light’ fills out to a resonant and reassuring pledge of constancy.

Most songs follow this template of soft, gradual starts before cresting to a life-affirming multi-instrument finale over a four-minute arc. The main exception is ‘Reconsider King’ which is exceptional in other ways. With a slower tempo and much sparser arrangement, it foregrounds just Palin’s vocals and acoustic guitar; it is poignantly lean and almost spiritual in its humbling exquisiteness. There are more in this a vein with the nine bonus acoustic songs that come with the deluxe hand-sewn edition of the album; an essential companion to “Star Map”.

The only Tim and Sam full-length album, the excellent “Lifestream”, felt more overtly centred on the natural world. “Star Map” appears more human, about hope and compassion, co-dependence and companionship. So Tim and Sam is no more, a victim of geographical dispersion of its members. A shame but out of circumstance and isolation, McIver and Palin have created a new kind of musical life for themselves and a beautifully realised and compelling one at that. As the final song title suggests ‘Restless Souls’ indeed. And we are richer for it.

Golden Fable Star Map [BUY]

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