When Euridice dies, Orpheus descends into the underworld where he plays a love song begging the god of death to restore her back to life. The song is so great and touching that for a few moments even Sysiphus takes a break to listen. Hades is moved to consent under one condition: Orpheus is forbidden to look upon his beloved’s face until they’re all the way up and out. Sounds easy, but at the last minute, Orpheus turns to check if she’s still following. She was, but now he’s lost her forever.
Imagine that instead of returning home where a love-maddened mob of women jealously rip him limb from limb, the bereft Orpheus just stayed there, unable to move on, inside the mouth of the cave, neither dead nor fully living, playing rockabilly blues to a growing cult of dirt and worms.
It might sound a bit like Timber Timbre’s Timber Timbre (2009), which I’ve been obsessive-decomposingly listening to for the past week. Taylor Kirk’s combination of old-timey American blues with eerie reverb, a ghostly chorus, and morbid lyrics makes this album sad without being saccharine and nostalgic without being dated.