Mary Timony- Mountains-3 (=”Good”) Helium’s leader thins out her eerie sound on solo debut.
For Mary Timony, the ways of distorted drums, buzzing guitars and warnings that “you’re gonna pay me with your life” appear to be over. It’s possible that, Like Billy Corgan, she will someday return to the sound and sentiments that she says should be left in the past But for now Timony seems content leaving behind the uncomfortable intensity that made Helium’s Pirate Prude and The Dirt of Luckso powerful and moving in the direction of a smoother, more mystical land.
Like Helium’s latest LP, 1997’s the Magic City, Timony’s solo debut, Mountains covers some pretty fanciful terrain. Bees, birds, horses, peacocks, tigers, pilgrims, demons, and goblins are just some of the characters highlighted in her cryptic, goth-like poetry, which is set upon a dark and sparse backdrop that prominently features piano, viola, and harpischord. “I dreamed of a river of ants inside me/And they were sad and starting to bleed,” Timony relates during the handclap-fueled “I Fire Myself” giving the listener the feeling that he/she’s stumbled into the middle of a warped fairly-tale reading. The sense of being on the outside of the stories is hard to shake, as is the feeling that many of the 15 tracks sound like rough demos for an upcoming Helium album, proving you can take the girk out of Helium but you can’t take Helium out of the girl. But overall Mountains has many more invigorating moments than aggravating ones, and some (including “The Bell” and “Valley of 1000 Perfumes”) sound justas good as her past highlights. But it’s also much easier to appreciate Mountains knowing that Timony plans returning to Helium in the future.
By Marc Hawthorne
Appeared in the May 2000 Issue of Alternative Press Issue Number 142