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Timothy Pure - Island Of The Misfit Toys CD (album) cover


Timothy Pure

Crossover Prog

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James Lee
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars let me preface thIs by SayIng one Thing: i've Been trying to figUre out what the odd capitaLizations on the song titLes might mean- neither nabokov type word gameS or internet/ hip-Hop culture references...if anyone can shed some light on thIs minor mysTery, let me know (capital "?").

The thematic focus of "Island of Misfit Toys" is half requiem, half protest; various disturbing situations that center around youthful protagonists developing personal and societal roles. What "Dark Side" did for insanity, "Misfit Toys" tries to do for youth, but with a more objective "Animals"-like observational tone. Whether this is artistic examination or exploitation is up for debate, but luckily this seems to present enough complexity to elevate it above 'after-school special' or Lifetime Channel sentiments. It's also quite a bit more character driven- like "Operation: Mindcrime" or MARILLION's "Brave", for instance...but this album seems to have depths that neither of those truly delivered.

The narrative is both realistic and impressionistic, with fantasy and ugly reality intertwined. Sometimes I actually wish the lyrics were a little more poetically abstract- they sometimes read like a nursery rhyme in a second rate horror novel- but it does match the unsophisticated nature of the children depicted, intentionally ("Finders Keepers") or not (the narration in "Hush"). The more stylized characters ("The Fly-Man And The Snake", for example) are similar to the mystic archetypes on "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway"- not quite as enigmatic, but not completely one-dimensional either. On "Mia's Game" the portrayal of furtive, nascent puberty is more disturbing than full of wonder, especially with the music-box sweetness of the sounds and blatant double- entendres in the lyrics and narrative. Songs like "Tribes" and "Playground Politics" relate clique sociology to primitive clannism, without the isolation of "Lord of the Flies", but there is also a strange organic metaphor, especially on the opening and closing tracks, that relates somehow to the narrative cycle. The moody "Finders Keepers" overcomes some clumsy lyrics to provide soaring "Comfortably Numb" lushness that reoccurs throughout the album.

The vocal tone lacks emotive depth but is otherwise pretty good- a bit hushed and subtle compared to the too-common melodramatic prog vocalists. It is frequently reminiscent of Gilmour, both in lead vocals and harmonies- and often, guitar-wise as well. The drummer is nicely loose- more feeling than precision, but never sloppy. The overall texture of the music is beyond reproach but doesn't take a lot of musical chances- there is seldom any instrumental or rhythmic complexities or adventurous experimention, just plenty of rich, full orchestral rock flavor. You've probably already heard from other bands pretty much what they have to offer musically, but TIMOTHY PURE finds their own respectably individual place in the FLOYD-inspired neo-prog continuum.

At its best, this album unnerved me like classic FLOYD used to- the dark undercurrents transposed with the portraits of childhood are dangerous ground unless you can do it tastefully, and the band may actually have ended up implying more complex concepts than they originally conceived. Much of prog only reveals its qualitiy through repeated listening, bit this is a rare album that overcomes some narrative deficiencies to lay the burden of interpretation on the listener (like the superior, but still too often clumsy lyrics on "Lamb Lies Down on Boradway"...but I don't suppose the lyricist here was too busy with side projects to finish these properly). It's quite possible that upon repeated listenings I may realize I've been duped, and that the album really is more like "Operation: Mindcrime" after all; but for now I award this an impressed and intrigued 4 stars.

[One month later] Okay, after some more time with the album I have to drop one of the stars; the lyrics are still tantalizingly evocative (intentionally or not) but I'm more concerned with the lack of uniqueness from song to song. Even a concept album should have a little more distinction between movements. Still impressive and worth a listen, but not the almost-classic I hoped it would be.

Report this review (#2610)
Posted Sunday, June 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars In 1999, Georgian "neo progressive rock" outfit Timothy Pure released their third album. ISLAND OF THE MISFIT TOYS is a concept piece that deals with issues of "otherness" and belonging, innocence and childhood, honour and betrayal, and adolescence and sexual awakening. Timothy Pure handle these weighty themes with intelligence, taste and sensitivity, and marry their thoughtful lyrics with accessible music that tends to be laid-back, atmospheric, and evocative.

That overall "laid-back" feel, however, is one of the very factors that prevent me from awarding this nonetheless good CD a higher rating. The music is pleasant, as are the vocals, but I would have wished for more variety and dynamics in both. For me, the "feel" of the album invites comparisons to SKYLARKING-era XTC, but without those English pop wizards' trademark humour and charisma. Some tracks, such as "Tribes," "Channels" and "Misha Superhero" (see the download of the latter here) are musically harder-hitting, but on the whole, the material does not always hold my interest.

That failure to consistently capture my attention brings me to what I believe to be ISLAND OF THE MISFIT TOYS' other significant weakness: with fourteen tracks, and almost seventy minutes running time, it is simply too long for its own good. I suppose that bands and producers often feel that, given the modern CD's eighty-minute capacity, they should "give buyers their money's worth," and strive to fill almost the entire disc. This can be a boon to the consumer if the product is of a consistently high/engaging quality, but it can also lead to "padding," and "bloating," as what would have made a solid forty-minute, ten-track album is extended well beyond its optimal length.

I feel that this is the case here -- I find it somewhat burdensome to get through this disc in a single session, and believe that the album could have been more immediate and effective if it had been "tightened up."

Next time out (assuming the band is still extant -- five years is a long time between releases), I'd like to see Timothy Pure adopt a more focused approach, with less "fat and filler." I also feel that they would benefit from a more frequently impassioned delivery of their music and vocals.

Those criticisms stated, I still feel that ISLAND OF THE MISFIT TOYS is a fine effort from a talented and intelligent band, and thus worthy of consideration for your prog collection.

Report this review (#2611)
Posted Thursday, July 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Have you seen the M. Night Shyamalan film "The Six Sense"? Creepy, isn't it? Well, I get the same feeling when I listen to the concept album "Island Of The Misfit Toys". With album names like "Blood Of The Berry" and "Bones Of Ghosts" you might think the band is not dealing with lightweight material here, and you'd be right. TIMOTHY PURE is looking much deeper: they're looking into the psyche. On this album the band are clearly not afraid to explore sensitive subjects such as masturbation, which has a song devoted to it and manages to avoid being salacious, and paternal violence that is convincingly and vividly described. Uplifting, it ain't!

To properly appreciate this nearly 70-minute album you have to listen closely to the lyrics and overdubbed voices, which deal with a group of children's personal struggles, their experiences learning how to interact with others, the tribal instinct, the loss of innocence and gradual spiral towards adulthood. For one of them, Enoch, the disturbing relationship with his father is explored and gives rise to two of the six memorable tracks on the album: 'Hush' which has spoken female vocals recounting vividly a recurring and disturbing nightmare, and 'Behind The Front' which describes the daily arguments and violence of his father toward his mother.

The style of music is *slightly* reminiscent of PINK FLOYD and PORCUPINE TREE, and there is some very good guitar and keyboard work; the musicianship is very evident. The music feels as if it has been crafted with laser precision: a tight and clean sound. Matthew Still's voice is very pleasant indeed. The mood of the tracks is very similar throughout the album: atmospheric and rather bleak. Many of the tracks themselves are similar musically and technically which, on an album this long, does become rather monotonous. I have to say that, unless listening intently to the lyrics, I become bored about three quarters of the way through the album. And my interest in the lyrics is not going to last forever. Of the six good tracks, two are excellent: 'The Fly-man And The Snake' and 'Playground Politics', and those I can happily listen to often. The haunting piano is particularly effective on the former, and the soaring guitar and Matthew Stills' voice on the latter. And both have good melodies.

Apart from the excessive length of the album and the sameness of the music, my other quibble is that the various overdubbed voices are sometimes not loud or distinct enough for me to make out what is being said. When what they are saying is important to the plot, I find this frustrating. Incidentally, I've already mentioned "The Sixth Sense", well one of the children even sounds like Haley Joel Osment.

Overall, it does not quite translate into an excellent album for me. Had the album been cut to around 50 minutes by removing the weaker tracks, and the lyrics rejigged to fit the shorter format then I think this album could have been a 4-star album. As it is, I'm going to give it 3 stars (Good, but non-essential).

Report this review (#2612)
Posted Friday, December 10, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars To be included in the games they must know their roles and don't complain, for these are the rules of the playground.

There's a real dichotomy here between the lyrics and the music. At first glance and on a superficial level, we have a light melodic almost pop prog album. Listen a bit more closely though, and you'll suddenly find you're in a the middle of a disturbing nightmare. The themes dealt with here are dark, regularly venturing into taboo areas such as masturbation and child neglect. All the while through, the music is pleasant, even occasionally upbeat.

Musically, and to some extent thematically, there are similarities with the period of PINK FLOYD dominated by Roger Waters, perhaps even stretching back to "Dark Side of the moon". There's also hints of CAMEL, THE MOODY BLUES and especially the ALAN PARSONS PROJECT in terms of the vocals and harmonies. The guitar work is generally somewhere between Hackett and Gilmour, with tracks such as "Channels" and "Safe" highlighting the band's instrumental capabilities. This though is not an album for those seeking lengthy symphonic instrumentation, the emphasis being primarily atmospheric rather than virtuoso.

There is a continuity to the music which makes for a very relaxing mood. The lyrics aside, Nothing is particularly challenging here. If you enjoy the music you will do so on first hearing, this is not one of those albums which demands repeated listening before you get it.

The fact that the music does flow so well is in part down to a certain amount of sameness throughout the album. The lack of variety may cause some to feel that the album is a bit bland and over long.

Turning back to the lyrics of André Neitzel, they remind me in some ways of a line manager I once had. He spoke is a very gentle way and was so quiet, it was sometimes difficult to hear him. When you did tune in though, you became aware that he was cursing and swearing, and making vitriolic and offensive comments. Here, the lyrics may not be directly offensive, but they vividly describe situations and events which many will find distasteful. For the voyeurs who find some of the lyrics difficult to make out, they are repeated on the band's website.

In all, a highly enjoyable light prog album with a real sting in the tale.

Addendum - I would commend to you James Lee's superbly written review of this album.

Report this review (#74539)
Posted Monday, April 10, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Where to begin ? This is a concept album about a group of children who all have names. It really starts with "who" children are in the first two songs. And this is represented by the "snake" and the "fly-man" more on that later. The songs go on to deal with certain aspects of the children's lives which include some disturbing facts. Other reviewers have explained this all very well how these dark secrets are sort of hidden, but it doesn't take much seeking to find them if you read the lyrics. What is so interesting to me was how the lyrics on songs like "Playground Politics" took me back to when I was a child. It also made me relate to one of the children in the song because that was how I acted in a group setting. Also a line in another song "Want to play ?" again took me back in time. I've had conversations with Finnforest about this very subject. How as children we would spend our summer holidays wandering around the neighborhood pretending, and playing, and investigating, and imagining, and seeking, and role playing. It was often a big adventure, playing games like hide and seek, and tag, and so on. Finnforest in his review of "Fear Of A Blank Planet" by PORCUPINE TREE touches on how "different" things are today from when many of us were children and pre- teens. Steven Wilson certainly brings out a lot of disturbing facts himself on that album. The music represented here does probably reminds me more of the ALAN PARSONS PROJECT more than anyone else. There is a PINK FLOYD element to this music as well. I actually saw this band classified as a Space Rock band on another site. This is spacey, dark, moody, beautiful and emotional music.

"A Damp Preserve" is beautifully done with acoustic guitar and vocals. There are samples of children playing in the background. This is where the snake and fly-man are first brought up. On their web-site the band says that the snake represents a child's boundless, inquisitive and exploratory nature. The fly-man represents a child's guide who is strong and supportive. So for example the snake would open the secret door, while the fly-man would walk them through it. The song "The Fly-Man And The Snake" has some good piano melodies and some haunting synths. There is a full sound 2 minutes in with soaring guitar that comes and goes. "Finders Keepers" is about getting lost as a child. I know it happened to me and i'm sure many of you out there have experienced this. This is a dreamy song with organ and some great relaxed guitar melodies. "Hush" is about a recurring nightmare. Again how many of us had bad dreams when we were children. This song is done amazingly well as it builds up dramatically, it's startling. The beginning and the ending feature female spoken words and piano. "The Engine Roars" shows how children start to seperate into different groups as they go about doing what children do. The music has reserved vocals and waves of synths. We now are introduced to a few of the children who are in the midst of personal struggles, as social skills are being developed. Some adapt while some seek to escape. This is like being inside a story, it's so well thought out.

"Tribes" shows the result of seperating into groups.The scene is at school during recess and the focus is on the named leaders of the tribes that have developed. The music has a good tribal beat with some great organ and guitar before it calms down to a finish. "Playground Politics" has terrific lyrics that should be read by all. The music is PINK FLOYD-like. "Mia's Game" is about her becoming aware of herself sexually. "Misha Superhero" has some great synth and guitar work. A harder hitting tune. "Island Of The Misfit Toys" has a mournful guitar melody before an uplifting passage arrives.The song becomes quite intense before a dreamy soundscape arrives.This song and the next one "Behind The Front" deal with Enoch's and his mother's abuse, both at the hand of his father. "Channels" features ELOY sounding synths to open with aggressive guitar right behind. This is a fantastic instrumental ! "Safe" is so emotional,it's about a child who is leaving home it would appear. Touching lyrics. The music is very ear- pleasing with the warm synths and guitar. "Soil" takes us back to the first song and must be read in light of that. It's about finding redemption, finding their souls in the damp preserve, that place where the snake and fly-man are. It's a difficult place to get back to when troubles, circumstances and life have turned us from children to adults too fast.

I grew up in a tourist town (I still live here) and my parents rented out cottages during the summer. We had 9 of them that surrounded our property. Most families that came stayed 1 or 2 weeks. I would have a new set of friends throughout the summer. Usually they would come up to me or my sister and say "Want to play ?", or we would go up to them with that question. Can you imagine as adults going up to someone you don't know and saying "Do you want to hang out today ?" or "Do you want to spend some time with me today ?". They would think we were crazy for asking such a question that is so normal for kids to ask. That is just one example of something that is lost when we turn into adults. We must "claw" and work our way back to that place of wonder and imagination to find ourselves once again. That is the idea behind the final song.This is another nice warm song with piano and synths. Very dreamy.

I can't remember a record that had such an affect on me, not necessarily musically but lyrically. I will be doing some imagining and remembering as I go to bed tonight and drift off into the island of misfit toys.

Report this review (#131474)
Posted Friday, August 3, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Island of the Misfit Toys is the third album from american rock/ prog rock band Timothy Pure. I found their previous album Blood of the Berry to be a pleasant listen and this album continues in a similar style.

The music is pretty normally structured rock but there are progressive tendencies. Some great melodic soloing and keyboard backing which reminds me a bit about newer Pink Floyd and Marillion. The mood is pretty sombre which is emphasised by the dark and emotional lyrics about innocense and childhood challenges.

The musicianship is is very good and the vocals from Matthew Still are emotional and pleasant.

The production is warm and well done.

The cover is eerie and strangely melancholic at the same time and suits the lyrics well IMO. Very well done.

If you liked the previous album from Timothy Pure called Blood of the Berry you´ll surely like this one too as it is in a similar style and quality. This is not music that suits my taste much but there is nothing wrong with the quality and the album deserves a 3 star rating.

Report this review (#178948)
Posted Wednesday, August 6, 2008 | Review Permalink

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