Though the Sepiachord motto is “Music now for a past that never was,” that falsified past generally consists of a few easily recognizable historical touchstones; Victorian influences abound, as do vague references to cabaret culture and a dust-hued vision of the Old West. Timber Timbre approach musical anachronism from a different angle. Their music is an alternate soundtrack to an American post-war period that never existed. Imagine an overheated gumbo of spectral blues, film noir doo-wop, and sinister pop plaintiveness and you're halfway there.
The overall atmosphere on Creep On Creepin' On is equal parts cinematic and ghostly. If David Lynch were to direct a skewed take on the detective genre, this would surely be tapped to provide the sonic backdrop. Indeed, the way the album proceeds is downright Lynchian; Timber Timbre's musical underpinning harkens back to a simpler, more innocent era of songcraft, but the band subtly and not-so-subtly warp the naivety of an antiquated and quaint American sound with a series of dark left turns. Midnight jazz horns, creeping bluesy bass, vintage keyboards and strings, reverberating guitars, and vocalist Taylor Kirk's Nick Cave-esque croon rise and fall in fierce, maddening crescendos, while the songs shuffle and sway like they're coming from a hellish remix of a 1950s prom.
The more structured songs on Creep On Creepin' On are punctuated by cinematic interludes such as “Obelisk” and “Swamp Magic,” as well as internally by bursts of unexpected cacophony. These textural changes are important within the scope of the overall album; without them, Creep On Creepin' On would risk drifting away into the ether. Again true to a Lynchian aesthetic, the lyrical concerns on Creep On Creepin' On are the failure of romance and the obsessive fugue that inevitably follows. Taken together as a kind of concept album, songs such as “Woman,” “Lonesome Hunter,” and the title track paint a bleak picture of a protagonist who is agonizing over a lost love and struggling to come to terms with their own identity in the face of a profound, defining loss.
It's something of a cliché to call these themes “haunting,” but the albums lyrics lay that convention bare by making oblique references to “omens,” “spells,” love that creeps like a zombie, and ectoplasmic coils of regret that hover like a halo over the head of the beloved object of obsession. The album's final lyrics in “Do I Have Power” hint at the possibility of surmounting one's personal trauma, but this is a dream deferred; the protagonist's assertion of self-determination is swallowed whole the melancholic swell that follows it. On Creep On Creepin' On there is no escaping the haunting pull of the past.