Timothy Armstrong’s second solo album Portraits is more vivid than just brush strokes. It is more fluid than snapshots. Like the words drawn on the pages of a novel, each song on Portraits is not an end within itself. Rather each song works cohesively to weave into an entire narrative. This is a story. Fragments of lives are threaded together with the sharp needlework of Armstrong and the thread of fellow musician Sarah Colman who together provide sensitive vocals that draw you in for every whisper and lead you into every caress of the instruments.
Portraits is a patchwork quilt, full of emotion and texture. The passage begins with ‘Sell Out’ an obscure proemium with a beautiful poetic disclosure in the lyrics:
“Become a comb and rake along the river bed.
Make sharp the stone and carve your name on my forehead.” ('Sell Out')
It swiftly moves through the album, a melancholy enchantment from song to song. The album strength is its narrative, the seamless way it runs through. It feels as if there is no beginning and ending between each song which allows you to ease into the depths of Portraits, unawakened.
The work of Armstrong and Colman is sure to become iconic. The sound is mature and distinct. Together they create sinister love songs, playful and ambient, yet dark and tragic. Armstrong’s sensitivity to his lyrics is captivating. It is rare to find an artist who has the courage to showcase their lyrical poetry and simplify the music into a perfect balance. Each enhances and reflects the other.
Portraits is beauty, with all its imperfections being the essence of this mysterious story that is unravelled before you. The songs are odes to great characters that you have never met, but begin to familiarise yourself with the more you listen, the more you become ensnared. Their stories become your stories.
Timothy Armstrong grew up surrounded by pictures of buildings. With a prominent architect and artist for a father, the younger Armstrong developed a penchant for constructing tall and strange musical towers; their strange exteriors cloaking a strong structure within.
In 2007, Armstrong released his first solo album 'We Can All Breathe A Little Easier Now' on his own indie imprint Twig Records. Garnering praise for his “Widescreen vision”, Armstrong continued his prolific musical sketches, created and produced single-handedly in home studios across Wellington.
He found a vehicle for these in The Novelist, a band that has quickly garnered a reputation for being one of the most technically brilliant and electric alternative outfits in the scene; creating electrifying renderings of Armstrong’s compositions across the country. With The Novelist, Armstrong released Votive E.P in August 2010.