11/1/14 – Mary Timony – The Golden Dove – 2002

Album Of The Day

Mary Timony The Golden dove Artwork

I first heard Mary Timony after seeing her band Helium on MTV ‘s 120 minutes in America in the mid nineties. I bought the 1994, 7 track Pirate Prude EP (hilarious title I thought) and followed this with The Dirt Of Luck 1995 and The Magic City 1997.  Helium formed in Boston where she graduated from university with a degree in English literature. Towards the end of the nineties Helium broke up and she made two solo albums, Mountains  in 2000 and The Golden Dove 2002 before moving back to DC where she grew up.

Timony has also studied the viola and has a unique approach to the electric guitar, this with her literature degree has given her the tools to exercise a vivid imagination both musically and lyrically. The Golden Dove is a real gem and opens with the intriguingly titled Look A Ghost In The Eye:

Look a ghost in the eye every day
Can you see the snake in the sky on a clear day

Instrumentally it’s almost baroque, but it has that primitive indie feel about it. Her music is difficult to place, medieval, indie, lyrical, progressive, folky soft pop – and actually none of these things. For example, she plays extremely inventive guitar lines that sound like they are meticulously worked out, but at the same time they are incredibly simple with an un-effected sound. It’s like the guitar is plugged straight into the amp, and the amp is on a quarter volume – no sustain. But this is her magic, her vision and along with her soft voice and childlike melodies she invites us into a colourful fantasy land. Helium weren’t like this, they were a noisier nineties indie band, by herself she can let loose with her daydreams.

The Mirror takes some unusual twists and turns both musically and lyrically:

Well I used to cry every day but I won’t look back, no way
I run to you and you run away
With your songs of death getting in the way

Shoot us down, under the ground
Shoot us down, under the ground

And when I look back, look away a crack in the mirror sheds a tear
We’ll sing our songs to the fruitless moon
As I follow a map of my inner room

Shoot us down, under the ground
Shoot us down, under the ground

Tie my leg to a rope throw me over the edge of a boat
And sail away, while the night gently covers us

Blood Tree follows the pattern of low viola notes, moody verses that lead to catchy choruses, the album title appearing in the last line:

The only boy I ever loved turned into a golden dove
And moved to California.

But it starts with a darker edge. Her songs are like a happy death, an exquisite pain, a macabre resignation:

Deep on the banks of the blood tree
You strangle me so delicately, so delicately you strangle me

Dr Cat,  is as sad a song of loneliness or madness that I have heard. It has a memorable piano part and a kooky video.  (See Video Of The Day)


Through the window her doctor goes
In the form of a cat is he a foe?
Where’s the peacock does he want me
With his fifty eyes so haunting?

You say I’m on where the wind blows
I glide on a leaf through the light falling snow.

Though I want to I won’t want you
I’ll sing the alphabet of regret
One thousand campfires in the valley
Burned here but you still can’t find me

You slept inside a jewel like a rose
While I hated life and now it just goes on.

The Owl’s Escape has more madness and loneliness. (I would love to hear Robert Wyatt sing this song). That is perhaps what is so appealing about her, she has that eccentric musical place that she visits. She  must meet Robert there sometimes in the waiting room.

Musik And Charming Melodee, is like a Renaissance dance  – viola and electric guitar always playing off each other. I can’t figure out whether she came out of a spaceship from a planet that is 600 years behind the Earth (except for spaceships) and learnt to play the electric guitar, or she is simply hundreds of years old. 14 horses  confirms my theory, dappled grey horses on the way to LA, burning telephones, it has centuries of influence rather than decades.

Magic Power has a similar incantation but with keyboard and cello and the melody is like a nursery rhyme populated by Timony’s tales of uncertain love and urban pressure of alcoholic neighbours.

The White Room’s piano melody has you materialise into a nightmare:

Hey little boy when I tried to call you, you were still in bed
Will one of us destroy the other like that dream I had?


Here it comes that poison melody plays to me
Will it enter our brains and kill us while we sleep?

And when she sings  “1,000 death worms marching in a crooked line” in a breathy catchy melody well I can only imagine she has a healthy sense of humour about the madness around her – around all of us.

More odd worked out guitar on Ant’s Dance and  “The idiots do their dance and I am stuck in an evil trance”. Her art is her only escape from the world, that’s why it is so fantastical – brass and despair at the end of the song.

The Dyad and The Mule, shaker, handclaps, whistles, I can’t hear a couple of the words here but this song reminds me of an update of Henry Cow. If Mary Timony had made this record in 1972 she would have sold out every university in England.

I want you can’t you see how like x dead
40 wings on the back of my head,
Stars red and blue, can I get with you?

I’m gonna find you in a place I can talk to you
On a bar stool checkin’ out my x
Like are you cruel, am I a mule?

Four little lizards sitting on my knee
Dropped down from the poisonous dream
If they bite me who says it won’t be sweet?
Melody and the wounded bee
Got lost we could not make them feel
If I hurt myself will it hurt anyone else?

Baby what made you so bold,
You grow on a tree 2,000 years old
Beneath fields of stars Jupiter and Mars
Come visit me anytime you want
In a dead tree is where I haunt and
You will meet my ghoul, the dryad and the mule

Last track Ash and Alice ends the album on an instrumental. Descending and ascending bass line anchoring low, distant fuzz, contsnat drum pattern, noises, electric piano part – great. Then a secret track with medieval harsichord keyboard. Definitely one foot in the past one foot in the future. She’s odd, I love this record and I love her medieval machinery.

Go to the link to see her many other projects:


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