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Mary Timony

That Mary Timony is one far out chick. We knew this during the later Helium days, of course, as that seminal band's fractured noise pop became an increasingly exotic brew of tinny keyboards, funny guitars, sitars, and harpsichords, while Timony's lyrical obsessions increasingly concerned a bizarre fairytale land populated by rainbow dragons, devil's tears, and ladies of the fire, subjects which previously had been the sole province of German men with long beards in the 1970s. Helium's last recorded effort was 1997's The Magic City, a dense, prismatic, and very strange album which represented the final stage in the development of Timony's utterly unique musical vision.

Said vision, a deeply compelling fusion of mid-fi '90s indie rock song structures, '70s prog guitar jams, proto-electronic synthesizer fugues, Renaissance Faire-style folk music, and odd scraps, came to total fruition on Timony's 2000 record Mountains, her first under her own name. Witchy, mystical, and ethereal, the album was C.S. Lewis's Narnia, Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea, Tolkien's Middle-Earth, and Michael Ende's Fantastica (from The Neverending Story), all bled together into a single bastard land and turned into rock music. Her 2002 sequel, The Golden Dove, might even be an improvement on Mountains, a weird, wild medieval hayride on which Timony plays most of the instruments as per her custom, including guitar, bass, piano, keyboards, and viola, getting some additional help from Swirlies drummer Christina Files and Sparklehorse frontman Mark Linkous. According to the liner notes, the album is the work of one "Ms. Charming Melodee and her accomplices." One can't help wondering if there's any coming back from the strange place Mary Timony has gone, but as long as she remains there, we hope she keeps shipping back these peculiar slabs of musical wonderment.