Review of Interconnected by Tim Burness

Interconnected is the latest release from Tim Burness, coming hot on the heels of Whose Dream Are You Living?, an album I enjoyed delving into for this newsletter both on its first digital release (2015), and it’s amended re release on cd in 2017. I’m pleased to say that this new collection continues where that album left off, exploring further some of the same themes but also taking an artistic deep dive into darker territory. That darker side is reflected in the album artwork which is a nice sleek black where the previous few releases had all been largely white in their make up, illustrated only very sparsely by a red question mark or a collection of fairly colourless pictures of Tim.  An artier image adorns the front cover of ‘Interconnected’, with a unicorn-headed Burness reading the Financial Times, projecting the image of a being not of this world, trying to make sense of the madness within it. It also hints at some of the political themes within as Tim offers a critique of neo-liberal capitalism and hopes for a better social structure, one where people can rediscover their connection to nature, the earth, our fellow beings and spiritual energy.

Music video for Electric Energy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0b3WF2LEYzM

Music video for I Am Afraid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6icbZoFtmc

So, what is ‘Interconnected’ in Tim’s world? Well. Everything is interconnected. The personal, the spiritual, the political. Love, hope and fear. Freedom and power. ‘Everything is interconnected, be the change you wish to see’ sings Tim during the album opener Electric Energy, a deliberately upbeat starting point that positively screams the 1980s in production style and is Tim’s call to arms for us to channel our energy, our consciousness, our love and spirituality to overthrow the oligarchies and the hierarchies that keep us trapped in this capitalist system. For Tim, music is all about positive energy and the way that energy exhilerates and raises awareness of our spirituality. It is a way to inspire whether that be through the rhythms of dance music, the emotion of a guitar solo or the mood and lyrical content of the song. ‘Electric Energy’ is both a description of the energy of love within us to spread and do good for others as well as a creator of that energy within us through its light playfulness and gimmicky effects, its fat, bouncy bass and it’s synthtastic pop hooks and danceable rhythm.

From the upbeat vibe of ‘Electric Energy’ we quickly move deeper into Tim’s psyche where he reveals his very real sense of fear, paranoia and frustration of where neo-liberalism has led us to. I Am Afraid is like the flipside of ‘Electric Energy’ as Tim isn’t blaming anyone other than ourselves for not taking our own responsibility for using our minds, for handing over power to the wrong people, for not realising the power we have. In ‘Electric Energy’ Tim is encouraging us to ‘look to the source of the power inside yourself, conscious love action, build for the future, blow away the hierarchy’ but in ‘I Am Afraid’ Tim is angry that, ‘we are responsible, we’ve put the power in the hands of fools with money’, and frustrated, ‘this joke isn’t funny anymore’, we’d better get going with alternatives, what is this total utter madness’?! That growing desperation is translated musically into an incessant guitar riff that repeats over and over through the song, building in tension. Tim’s calling out of ‘I am afraid, aren’t you?!’ suggests he is feeling alone and isolated and wanting the rest of us to wake up to what is going on around us. We should all be afraid and we should all do our bit to change things.

The parenthesis title of ‘I Am Afraid’, (Saturn Conjunct Pluto) which is, for the non astrologists out there, a reference to the fact that we are two thirds of the way into the cycle of Pluto going into Capricorn. Tim is a dedicated and published astrologer and explains that between 2008 and 2023 we are experiencing a tumultuous period. Capricorn is all about structures organisation, economics and politics and Pluto is about transformation, wiping everything out and starting again, death and rebirth. Tim relates this to the economic crash and all the political upheaval and social division we have had since as well as the huge challenges we face on issues such as global warming. ‘What have we become?, we have reached our limits, can we turn it around?, I am afraid of a loveless world, where nobody cares’, is Tim’s frustration that we need to reevaluate our priorities, move away from the importance of financial status and reconnect with our humanity, with our sense of community, our love and respect for our fellow beings, of nature and of our planet if we are to come out of this situation.

Photo by Rachael Emily for Prog magazine

Freedom explores one of the great philosophical dilemmas; where do you draw the line and strike the balance between personal freedom and an element of social structure to protect your freedom. This is quite a different track for Tim in that he has steered away from straight forward, direct lyrics to something more poetic and ambiguous. These poetic lines float wistfully over an elegant piano melody and lush synth soundscape, with Kate Bush and Genesis influences gently nudging their way in to an inventive track built upon the unusual 5/4 time signature. ‘Freedom’ is the featured track on a Prog Rock Magazine cover CD and one of the undoubted highlights of the album (I find the entire first half to be flawless). Tim deliberately wanted this song to get away from obvious interpretations but I think the key to it is the low in the mix, affected toff voice Tim uses to seemingly mock the concept of freedom, a cynicism that any freedom we may feel we have is mere smoke and mirrors from the elites to fool us and keep us from uprising into any meaningful action.

If that all sounds like a heavy going start of the album I can assure you that it is only really ‘I Am Afraid’ with its swirling, claustrophobic paranoia that is truly heavy to listen to. ‘Electric Energy’ is fun and uplifting with positive encouragement in much the same way as ‘And Set Your Spirit Free’ is on the previous album, and ‘Freedom’ is an atmospheric dreamy epic. Punctuating the heavy themes of the album with a dollop of the renowned Burness humour is Dear Stranger, a tongue in cheek duet of sorts with the computerised voice of Siri (voice actor Susan Bennett, also the voice of Delta Airlines, provided the monotonous, robotic tones for Apple inc). Tim’s use of humour isn’t always appreciated by the stuffier critics of the Prog scene, but if you know Tim you know he has an affable cheeky chappiness about him, and the ability to mix deep thinking with a welcome blend of absurdist and satirical humour, a perfectly natural way for Tim to further express his personality and inner angst. ‘Grass is Greener’ from ‘Whose Dream ….?’ contained elements of Tim’s humour but this is more overtly used in ‘Dear Stranger’, an XTC-ish pop song about internet dating, with goofball backing vocals and ludicrously catchy melody.

This is the Space follows on from ‘Dear Stranger’ and I can’t help feeling it’s sequencing here is because it is also about a relationship. ‘Dear Stranger’ detailed the frustration, albeit comically, of trying to get to know someone who is protected behind the computer screen, what do you trust is real? The information given? The images shared? ‘This is the Space’ takes us back down into the darkness of earlier in the album with my interpretation of the song being about mental health. ‘So dark, so light’, ‘unreachable, I can’t get into your head’, ‘unfathomable’, all expressions of the desire to connect with someone whose mood and personality swings violently from one extreme to the other, rarely settling in the space where a relationship can flourish. That dichotomy of dark and light swings like an emotional pendulum as the song builds in its dark psychosis through to its abrupt end.

Making It Up is notable for a lovely bit of acoustic guitar from Keith Hastings, who provides the bass throughout this and most of Tim’s back catalogue, and is similar in feel to ‘Freedom’, a mid tempo, gently brooding soundscape with Tim perhaps pondering further on the relationship in ‘This is the Space’ and where it is going. Still Mumbling is an update of Mumbling in the House of Commons a song Tim has been playing around with since 1981, with the 1989 single version supposedly the final take! Tim regards this as his ‘hit’, seeing as it received some airplay from Alan Freeman on Radio 1 and this is basically a fun jazz-rock jam from the band with some humorously satirical lyrics on the state of British politics, and ineffective politicians in particular, a situation seemingly unchanged in nearly 40 years!

 
 

Ants is the most challenging song on the record, and Tim’s most satisfying creatively. A reflection of his own existential insecurity and confusion as well as philosophising on the nature of the individual within the collective, comparing our own societies to that of the ants crawling around the Earth. The track isn’t particularly melodic or tuneful, building an oppressive soundscape on top of a 1-2-3 percussive beat with Tim’s use of E-Bow providing a strange electronic tone amongst other effects. Beautiful World is a Floyd-esque epic, containing Tim’s longest lyric, a tortured ballad to our own planet and the very real risk we are posing to it if we don’t change our ways. Such a track would have wrapped this album up perfectly but Tim was keen to end on a more positive note, the album coming full circle after the positive opening of ‘Electric Energy’. One More Time is a fun, almost silly, sing-a-long ditty that works as an uplifiting, light-hearted encore which may just leave you wanting more, whereas ‘Beautiful World’ would have left a greater sense of completion.

Interconnected is the work of an artist who has been developing his craft, his thoughts, his ideas over a number of years finding himself in the fortunate position of being able to capitalise on his creative peak at a time he had resources to put every bit of energy and care into the project. There are many echoes of his previous works as well as Tim borrowing comfortably from his myriad influences, but the album also stretches out into new territory, pushing his own musical instincts, with the encouragement of his producer Julian Tardo, as well as the capabilities of his hugely talented band of Fudge Smith, Keith Hastings and Monty Oxymoron. The strength of Tim’s music is the honesty, the soul baring and humanity of his lyrical content. He is able to project the many facets of his personality, his hopes, his fears, his desires, his anxieties, his humour and his positivity, to be constructive and to help make a difference to change things for the better. He may claim to be afraid as we approach the peak of Pluto’s crossing over into Capricorn, but he is not afraid to explore his darker recesses, just as much as he isn’t afraid to be silly and fun. He’s not afraid to tackle the big subjects of our time but he balances criticism with answers and a positive way forward. Tim’s music is a ‘light in the darkness’ which should give us all food for thought and inspiration through all the madness going on around us and in our own individual lives.

Review by Joe Bridge

Taken from the December 2018 newsletter of Brighton’s Real Music Club

Tim Burness Band videos now up

Electric Energy

I Am Afraid (Saturn Conjunct Pluto)

 

Two videos for tracks from the new Tim Burness album ‘Interconnected’ are now up on my Youtube channel. ‘I Am Afraid (Saturn Conjunct Pluto)’ is the darker and heavier song of the two. Saturn conjunct Pluto refers to an astrological conjunction currently taking place in the sign of Capricorn, which reaches a peak in January 2020. ‘Electric Energy’ is a lighter and more upbeat song, that may have been influenced by the late seventies music of guitarist Steve Hillage. We had a lot of fun making these videos, I hope you enjoy them!

Interconnected

‘Interconnected’ is available on CD and as a digital download from my Bandcamp site where it can be listened to for free. Thank you to Proggnosis for a brief review.

The Tim Burness Band has a few gigs lined up for 2019. We are hoping to expand the band line-up and also add a more theatrical presentation to some of the songs.

The first gig is on Saturday 23rd February, a headliner at The Brunswick in Brighton and Hove, with my old friends the Real Music Club. Other gigs (including two festivals) scheduled so far will take us further afield.

Happy New Year, all!

Interconnected – Tim Burness new CD and track listing

With the help of the usual suspects, I am extremely pleased to have recently finished Interconnected, a new studio album. It will be released on 12th November 2018 as a physical CD and digital download with free listening available at my Bandcamp site. Initially, perhaps permanently, it will not be available on the streaming sites.

Julian Tardo and myself have also made videos for three of the songs, two of them featuring the band. They will gradually be going up on my Youtube channel.

The songs are mostly a continuation of the range of styles and lyrical themes that were explored on 2017’s Whose Dream Are You Living?. The album starts and finishes on an upbeat note but there is a wide range of moods in between. Anyone who doesn’t like the Burness silly side had better pass on a couple of tracks! On the other hand, at least one song brings to mind an old T-shirt that an ex-girlfriend bought me: “Do Not Disturb – Already Disturbed”.

I feel extremely lucky to have been able to make this album, it has been hard work but also a joy and a privilege. Thanks largely to an unexpected inheritance, the last two years has been entirely free of the restrictions and distractions that have often hindered my efforts in the past. I hope I’ve made the most of the opportunity. There is arguably far too much music being made these days, so thank you so much to everyone who has supported or continues to support me. It means a great deal. Cheers.

Interconnected track listing:

  1. Electric Energy
  2. I Am Afraid (Saturn Conjunct Pluto)
  3. Freedom
  4. Dear Stranger
  5. This Is The Space
  6. A Shorter Space
  7. Making It Up
  8. Still Mumbling
  9. Ants
  10. Beautiful World
  11. One More Time    

Drake – astrological birth chart

At the end of June 2018, Canadian hip-hop rapper Drake (Aubrey Drake Graham) released his massively successful fifth album Scorpion, which would appear to have been named after his astrological sign of the zodiac.

Strong Scorpio emphasis and Mars square Pluto

Looking at his natal horoscope chart (born 2.31 am, 24th October 1986, Toronto in Canada), Drake has his Sun, Mercury and Venus in the sign of Scorpio. Perhaps more importantly, there is a also a Sun-Pluto conjunction in Scorpio, with the Scorpio Pluto forming a close square (always very important in a birth chart) to Mars in Aquarius. This is an explosive and mighty powerful combination which needs to be very carefully channelled. An independent, progressive and humanitarian (Aquarius) power is being unleashed on the world!

The dark, often hidden side of Scorpio can get very murky, with the rights and wrongs of the use of power needing attention. Anyone born with such a Scorpio emphasis is very likely to have to work their way through more darkness than most. As far back as being bullied at school, Drake has had many confrontational exchanges and clashes with others – ongoing feuds, legal disputes and relationship issues (Venus in Scorpio) which form the basis of many of his lyrics. At the same time, there is a determined and strong Scorpionic sense of purpose, with the potential for healing both himself and others.

Drake’s chart from http://www.astro.com

Early years

Drake was born to a mixed-race couple in Canada in 1986, and raised Jewish in a middle-class family. He initially became famous in Canada by playing wheelchair-bound Jimmy Brooks in seven seasons of the popular teen soap Degrassi: The Next Generation. It wasn’t until a personal crisis in 2008 that his musical career truly began to take off. At the time, Pluto formed a transit to his Scorpio Sun (he was written out of the soap opera, to be re-born as a hip hop artist), Saturn had just crossed into his 1st house (marking the beginning of a new 29 year cycle of personal responsibility) and Uranus squared natal Uranus (that age 21 transit, time to break free from childhood). In 2009, Drake signed a record deal with Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment and began his rise to the top.

Leo rising and a Grand Trine in Water 

With creative and dramatic Leo rising, Drake’s Scorpio planets are in the 3rd house of communication. This fits very nicely with his intense, emotionally-driven rapping style. Drake has the confidence and arrogance of other hip hop artists (such as Jay Z and Kanye West, whose influence he has acknowledged) but as one might expect from a typical Scorpio with so much Water in the chart, Drake’s words and language are also a genuine expression of deeper soul-searching.

Drake’s nurturing Moon in Cancer (the handle of a Bucket shaped chart, similar to Taylor Swift’s as it happens) has easy flowing aspects to super-imaginative Jupiter in Pisces and intense Venus in Scorpio – a Grand Trine in Water signs. This says much about the sensitivity that sets him apart from the majority of hip hop artists, also helping Drake achieve mass popularity with the public. Not many hip hop artists would call an album Take Care, the title of his second album.

2017-2019 transits for Drake – the magic of Neptune, Uranus and others

Drake’s universal appeal has recently been helped by transiting Neptune forming a conjunction to natal Jupiter in Pisces and 7th house, together with easy aspects to his Moon (2017 to early 2018) and soon to come Venus (2019). This comment from him sums up the Neptune experience well: “The whole thing is unusual at this point, so we’re just rolling with the fairytale vibe”. Expansive Jupiter has also been moving through Scorpio, a positive boost that occurs for each sign of the zodiac every twelve years. Uranus, the great awakener, had just passed its first opposition transit to Drake’s Sun when Scorpion was released on 29th June. Worth keeping an eye on Drake for the final stage of his Uranus opposite Sun transit in March 2019 (as Uranus fully enters Taurus) – more powerful Scorpionic excitement indicated!

Scorpion broke several streaming records and Drake became the first artist to top one billion global streams in the first week of a studio album release. With Saturn still moving up through the bottom half of his chart, Drake has many years to go until he reaches the peak of his career. Despite what some critics say, it looks like he is only just beginning. Never underestimate the power of a Scorpio to be continually re-born, rising from the ashes, again and again.

This is an edited and extended version of an article originally published in the July 2018 edition of I AM astrology magazine https://infinityastrologicalmagazine.com/

Consultations and readings available at https://www.timburnessastrologer.co.uk

Getting the new album out there

The new CD and Digital Album release, ‘Whose Dream Are You Living?’

During the last couple of months, Whose Dream Are You Living? has gradually been getting out there, along with the accompanying video for the track Grass Is Greener. As with previous work, the album features a wide range of musical styles, including progressive rock, pop-rock and touches of electronica and ambient music. It was recorded over the last few years with the help of some great musicians and friends at Church Road Recording Studios in Hove, England. Long-term collaborator and co-producer Julian Tardo also contributed additional guitar and other instruments on some tracks.

Another step on a musical and personal journey. It’s been a long old journey (mostly in relative obscurity) since the late seventies and ‘Whose Dream Are You Living?’ is my seventh album. I like to think I’m finally reaching a certain standard after all the struggling – better late than never! Thank you to everyone who has supported my music over the years and if anything from my latest efforts touches or inspires a few people, I will be a satisfied man. It has often been a great struggle to keep going and I have not made it easy on myself by having badly paid day-jobs – mostly care and support work of various kinds. There has also been an ongoing fight with depressive tendencies and a general sense of personal failure in life. The typical, self-obsessed, “first world”, “tortured artist” syndrome!

Brief thoughts on the music business in 2017.
Speaking to a singer less than half my age in a fairly successful band, we both agreed what a farce the whole thing has become for bands or artists trying to get heard these days. Even if you are gigging on a regular basis (which I’m not, although we hope to do a few things in 2018), it now seems to be largely about uploading “content” to the likes of Spotify, YouTube and Instagram in a desperate struggle for attention. And almost no money in return. In all genres, there is clearly far too much music around and it’s largely lost its ability to make a cultural impact. Still, when I can, someone like me will always keep coming back to making music. As an old friend of mine used to say: “What else are you going to do with your life?”. Cheers!

Review of “Whose Dream Are You Living?”

Thanks to Joe Bridge of the Real Music Club for this nice album review:-

“Tim Burness is back at the RMC on February 27th and with his seventh album, Whose Dream Are You Living? a work he has been patiently and lovingly crafting for the best part of five years. His previous album Vision On (2007) received strong notices, recognition and international reviews, so Tim had a lot to live up to with its follow up, released in November last year and available via https://timburness.bandcamp.com/

LiveBurnessOpening track Onwards and Upwards starts off with Gregg McKella’s swirling synths and electro beats before the real drums (Fudge Smith: ex Pendragon and Steve Hackett) kick in and drive the song forward, carrying the positive message of the song’s lyrics along with it.

Slowing down with Grass is Greener, this song seems to catch a man at some sort of crossroads contemplating a change in life, with Tim’s wit particularly enjoyable on lines such as “I know that some British folk like to hang out in Turkey, if I get myself out there I might feel slightly more perky. I heard things are quieter in Belgium, unfortunately there is not much that rhymes with Belgium” and “the grass is greener over there, at least I’ve still got most of my hair”!

The album continues to alternate between tempos as Monty Oxymoron (Damned, Sumerian Kyngs) starts up Set Your Spirit Free, another positive-thinking song “release the energy and set your spirit free” before the ambient sounds of Round and Round bring things down into a mellow hypnotic trance with its repetitive acoustic riff and minimal vocal lines punctuating the soundscape.

Moving on with something a bit different, Smith’s thumping percussive beats and Tim’s fiery bursts of guitar create an aggressive atmosphere to colour the assertive lyric of The Messenger, an atmosphere that builds before being punctured by a cough and a completely unexpected (should I have put a spoiler alert in?!) middle section, all Oompah band and megaphone! Another track that takes the album into different territory is the aptly titled Unlike Any Other, which is largely instrumental bar some sparse spoken lines, and carries with it a kind of modern noirish nightmare feel with its theramin-like sounds eerily playing over the stop-start rhythm.

After that midway detour, A Space for Our Love to Grow brings us back to the vibe set by the opening four tracks – a typically spacious, synthesised sound with a yearning chorus. There are again some little musical twists to keep things interesting, such as the nice acoustic / keys outro that just acts as a nice release to the emotion of the main body of the song.

Politics infiltrates the album on Stop Them. Tim’s anti-corporate, anti-capitalist protest is powerful in its passion but done with a light enough touch to not beat you over the head with its message. The music is subtle with vocals to the fore, bringing full attention to the lyrics.

After the relatively heavy Stop Them comes a song with a sprinkling of humour, playing on its name check of Doctor Who in its first line, with repeated use of Dalek-sounding voices. Otherwise What’s Going On In Your Head is one of those Ronseal songs, doing exactly what it says on the tin!

Closing out the album is Cynical World, a track that gives the album a sense of closure and of wrapping things up with the repeated vocal refrain “Our love goes on” sung over Monty Oxymoron’s distinctive backing vocals and some clean, emotive lead guitar work. Tim Burness has produced a mature and engaging work, full of hope, positivity and deep soul searching, always giving something for the mind to think over whether they be the personal, spiritual or political lyrics within, the trippy soundscapes, or the intricate musical twists and turns along the way. Five years of hard graft and personal investment well spent!”