Tim Cohen refuses to die. He simply subsists on fleeting ideas. As if trapped inside a virtual insect farm, he catches fluttering melodies in his butterfly net of a mind, digesting them and spitting them out in verse. It’s not that he wants to, necessarily. His obsession with making music as a means to turn nothing into something has become something of a need. This need has driven him to release close to 30 full length records over the past decade. His prolificacy has sometimes worked against him, as he describes some of his earlier, home-recorded work as “hurried” or “incomplete”. But, 2018 has found Cohen at the top of his songwriting game, as focused and direct as ever.
The Modern World is his newest solo collection, recorded at home over the course of a restless and fruitful year. The birth of his second child, coupled with the constant juggle of a fledgling painting career and a day job, allowed strains of anxiety into the artist's vision, and he relished those rare moments of silence, when he could coop up in his attic recording space and press "record." The result is a visceral, raw yet clear amalgamation of Cohen’s utmost paranoias and deepest joys. It is his first entirely self-recorded record since 2011’s Tim Cohen’s Magic Trick and those years of practicing restraint and patience in the studio has paid dividends here. The new LP is bold and urgent-sounding, structured and sequenced to highlight Cohen’s most interesting sonic moments.
As always, Cohen has absorbed each moment of music around him, and his attentive ear and creative bent on pop music is on full display here. “Shape of Light” turns a Baldwin Fun Machine loop into a spellbinding, bass-driven ditty, centred around the dirgeful/ hopeful lyric “Death be not fearful, death be not cruel, death be not tearful, joy is the mood!” “Sycamore” is introduced by a major-key, bordering-on-cheesy harpsichord which falls off a cliff into a minor key, vocal-strained piano song. Cohen’s song craft, now closely honed to the emotional see-saw within each piece, includes nods to duelling lead guitars and field-recorded drums (“He Must be Dead”), piercing trumpet fanfare (“Go Seagull”), and a deep bow to Leonard Cohen on the devastating, drumless closer “Child of Divorce”.
The Modern World finds Tim Cohen once again outliving himself on wax. His thirst for aural documentation unquenchable, our hero wavers between the pitfalls of a fast-moving metallic world and morbid fears of a seemingly rising tide of hatred and unrest, between the strains of modern love and parenthood, and the deep intrinsic joy of pure love. LetCohen's earthy baritone sing you awake this morning, that you may see the myriad butterflies swimming about your head.