Following the Easter release of taster single “Here Comes The Weekend”, today Tim Burgess announces the release of new album Typical Music, out 23rd September via Bella Union and available to preorder here. To celebrate the announcement Burgess has shared a visually striking Kevin Godley-directed video for the album’s compulsive title track.
Commenting on the video Kevin Godley says: “Typical Music sounds like an out of control ‘something’ moving at improbable speed, hoping bits don’t fall off before it crashes, and that chaotic propulsion is what this film is about. We shot in a tiny room using 3 hand-held cameras, the most effective being a GoPro with a 360-degree lens that Tim filmed himself with whilst literally bouncing off the walls, his performer’s understanding of its potential giving the film exactly the kind of warp speed jeopardy I was looking for.”
Typical Music is a 22-track double album, a blockbuster set of songs that are as expansive and diverse as they are rich: “OK, we all know about double albums, right?” begins Burgess, a keen as mustard a student of pop and rock history. “Historically, they’ve been thought of as indulgent. But I came to the conclusion that what I was doing was the opposite of that. I wanted to give people everything that I’d done. And everything that I brought to the studio and worked on with the guys, I coloured them all in equally. Every idea was treated as if it was the best thing and had to be treated with extreme care. I wanted to give everything of myself. That was it.”
The studio was Rockfield, the storied farmyard recording establishment in Wales that held memories both good and bad for Burgess. Good, because The Charlatans recorded some of their greatest moments there (including 1997’s Tellin’ Stories, led by landmark single ‘One To Another’). Bad, because during the recording of that fifth album, the band’s original keyboard player Rob Collins died in a car crash at the bottom of the lane. Burgess hadn’t properly been back to Rockfield in almost 25 years, but now it was time.
Burgess spent 30 days in the studio with Thighpaulsandra and Daniel O’Sullivan. The former is the authentically legendary keyboard, synthesiser and production wizard who’s played with Coil, Julian Cope and Spiritualized. The latter is the ex-Grumbling Fur multi-instrumentalist who’s released records on Burgess’s O Genesis label and is a member of his live band. Dave Fridmann then sprinkled his magic over the album, mixing all 22 tracks.
“I just wanted more,” smiles this hyperactive polymath. “I wanted to challenge us all. I wanted to do more electronic things. I wanted to expand the sound. We were limited in what we could do because of Covid, but we had orchestras in our brains. But we just did it as the three of us.”
Where did they go? Where didn’t they go? To highlight but three songs from Typical Music: ‘Revenge Through Art’ is loose-hipped, chewy funk. ‘Kinetic Connection’ offers up sparkling psyche-pop, wiggy electronics weaving in and out of rippling piano. ‘Take Me With You’ is a space-soul love song.
“I fell in love with the world again,” he explains of the latter’s lyrical origins. “During Covid, I read a pile of books, got better on guitar. I had new perspective. I wanted to learn how to be Tim Burgess who makes solo records. People have a vision of me as the singer in The Charlatans. That’s not going to change. Then there’s me as the Twitter guy. But I just fell in love with the world again and wanted the world to take me with them.”
Elsewhere there are songs for his young son, and for his dad, who passed away in April 2020. There is, too, the twangy gallop of the title track. Or, as the encyclopaedically-minded Burgess puts it, excitedly: “It’s definitely sci-fi, and primal as well. Brian Jones on teardrop guitar. Or Will Sergeant, early Bunnymen. Banshees, even. Daft Punk! And then ‘Sooner Than Yesterday’ is the same,” he adds of another moment of absolute torch’n’twang, “but in monochrome. It’s more English.”
Overall, that fed into his vision for Typical Music, to wit: “I wanted to write sci-fi punk songs, or sci-fi surf songs. I was listening to a lot of Joe Meek and Kim Fowley, and lots of the songs are two minutes long. I think the average length is just over three minutes. I like that.”
Together Burgess, “Thipes” and O’Sullivan – let’s call them The Rockfield Three – have crafted a colourful, kaleidoscopic cosmos, created when the world outside was so black and white and beaten down. “That was totally the goal,” affirms Tim Burgess. “In my most far-out thoughts, I thought of it as like we built a spaceship that was hermetically sealed, a crew of three. And we just wanted to transcend the mire.” With Typical Music, it promises to be some trip.