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Arnold, Tim: Super Connected

Super Connected, the twenty-sixth album from Tim Arnold, already comes with more than one quite exceptional side-story - the first of which being that as Arnold put together this conceptual piece revolving around the advancement of tech, the ever invading presence of social media and the effects these have on mental health, he was diagnosed with Autism. As such, the explanation as to why this artist has been quite so prolific over the years came into a sharper focus than even the artist himself had ever anticipated. Career or coping mechanism? Both I would suggest is the answer, and I can certainly empathise with the latter of those two aspects. The second side-story arrived after the album’s release, with Apple Music banning Super Connected due to track six here, “A Commercial Break”, where British TV and Film institution Stephen Fry delivers an advert right in the album’s heart for the ‘i-Head’, a device that allows those with ‘sonic imagination deficit’ to once again experience music as they used to before their imagination ‘closed down’. A number of big name music acts signed an open letter to Apple asking to reverse their decision, with one of those being 10CC founder Kevin Godley, who is also something of a mentor to Arnold.

Produced by former Jethro Tull bassist Jonathan Noyce and Ben Pelchat, the album was conceived with guidance from both Godley and the late Lindsay Kemp and it has to be said that it sounds simply fabulous. Opening cut “Start With The Sound” plays strongly to Arnold’s strengths, an amalgam of David Bowie like angular wistfulness wending its way round something Ultravox may once have crafted, with the former of those touching points again strongly in evidence on the brass infused “Super Connected”. These are beautifully crafted pop songs, with real heart and depth - and with a message that doesn’t necessarily seek to answer all its questions, rather posing as many as it concludes. Is tech good? Does social media merely drive distraction and depression? Could we and should we do without connectivity and the safety it can provide? Does the opportunity to discover so many things via the device on our hand open door after door after door? Arnold isn’t finger waving here, instead asking us to look within and answer those questions for ourselves, although it would be difficult not to notice which side our host falls on most of the time.

So, what of the track causing all of the controversy? Well, it opens with the perfectly pitched voice of Kate Alderton asking “Don’t you hate it when commercials interrupt your playlist? We do too…” before Fry performs his pastiche. It’s all magnificently put together and worryingly believable, and on first listen you kind of smirk along and nod as the sentiment plays out. I must admit though, that by the third spin, it is indeed as infuriating as listening to the kids’ Spotify account interrupt excellent albums with inane adverts…

Then the uplifting, shimmering “Everything Entertains Me” begins the journey impressively once more, before “Send More Light” pulls everything right back in for a beautiful piano, strings and vocal refrain. From there it’s the Pink Floyd meets Muse via The Feeling of “The Complete Solution”, where Mr Fry once again takes us back to ‘i-Head’ world at the song’s beginning. However, it’s “Finally Everybody’s Talking” which takes the concept to its extreme, the basis of the track being all manner of phone and app notification bings, swoops, whistles and pings. It’s clever stuff indeed as our narrator reads out glib social media garbage by way of lyric, but as with the mid-song advert, as a song itself, I’ll admit it wears me down after repeat listens.

Super Connected comes, I believe, as an all encompassing visual and aural experience in the live arena and I’d guess that in that setting the niggles I can’t quite shake off as this album spins through some amazing highs and the occasional stumble will all fade away. As it is, this album is hugely impressive, marvellously well realised and yet still somewhat frustrating.

Track Listing
1. Start With The Sound
2. Super Connected
3. You Like My Pictures
4. The Touch Of A Screen
5. Start A Conversation
6. A Commercial Break
7. Everything Entertains
8. Send More Light
9. The Complete Solution
10. Where Am I In All This?
11. Finally Everybody’s Talking
12. Make Me All Right

Added: August 20th 2023
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Tim Arnold @ bandcamp
Hits: 1039
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Arnold, Tim: Super Connected
Posted by bursel on 2023-11-03 08:23:47
My Score:

This is a truly wonderful dress. Greffe de Cheveux Turquie

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