Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax

{tim pourbaix}

I understand Tim Pourbaix. In as much as one can understand that irrational dimension to existence – namely, humans – I get Tim Pourbaix.

Pourbaix is determined. He is not afraid of working hard. And within his work ethic, he’s smart about the moves he makes – he’s crafty and pragmatic. He is obsessed with the act of creation. He is a lifetime learner. He is wide awake and listening to what you’re saying. He is not afraid of running hard, drinking fast and smoking a lot. But best of all, Tim Pourbaix is passionate about being passionate. You can see it in his eyes.

If you are ever in-need of something intense: stand in front of one of the many stages that Pourbaix graces, and look him in the eyes. I dare you: Look him in the eyes.

With his 2007 release, A Pony Craig, Not Greg, Killfix member Tim Pourbaix is again establishing himself as a top-tier Denver musician. A native Coloradoan, Pourbaix has a history with the Queen City, its music and its characters. Within this, he understands the rewards of productions and equally as well, he understands the fear involved in reaching out and into the world with one’s words and ideas.

And while Tim Pourbaix is consumed about the anxiety that swirls around inside him, he is oddly unafraid of standing on stages by himself – with that supreme intensity hardening his face and his metronome body.

Without a doubt, being a solo musician is one of the bravest acts that I can conceive of: You stand in front of a room of eyes by yourself, under some stage lights by yourself – and you play your fucking heart out, by yourself. And most of the time, audiences could care less.

I’ve heard it all before – but I wonder if people like Tim Pourbaix actually listen to these kinds of words: The folk thing is done. The singer/songwriter thing is done. It’s cliché. It’s melodramatic. It’s 30 years ago.

If you see (and listen to) Tim Pourbaix on stage, you will understand the primary problem about the public’s received view on singer/songwriters: they’re dead wrong.

I’m not so sure Pourbaix is paying attention to any of the pundits. If he does, he doesn’t say anything – nor does his work ethic reflect any apprehension in this trade. For this, I think that Tim Pourbaix is too busy working, and producing, to even care.

In person, Tim Pourbaix is quiet. At first. He is reticent in his approach – or maybe that’s just what I felt coming to first know him. In the first several encounters I had with Pourbaix, we talked, he nodded his head, smiled gently and spoke sparsely and quietly. For the September A Moveable Feast, Pourbaix was in attendance all 3 nights. A constant learner, he scribbled down notes and paid attention to everything he was afforded. During those three days at the Feast, I heard less than 100 words from Pourbaix. I thought he was, like a lot of our town’s top singer/songwriters – a little shy, introverted and a little weird.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Tim Pourbaix is charismatic, wildly awake and vibrantly aware. He buzzes at a frequency that would kill an old man. He has volumes to say about the most pertinent of subject matter. And as is the case with his music, Pourbaix doesn’t concern himself with politics, nor love – instead, what Pourbaix is fascinated with is the element of character. Of being in the moment and living with a pronounced emotion – if not explicitly on the surface, just below it – ready to strike as a pen, or a brush or a guitar as creative production.

His songs are stories – or if not that, then they are meditations on moments. Compositions on composure. Affectations of attitude. For the most part, his songs are simple lyrically – they revolve like a water wheel. They are calculated, because like a water wheel – Pourbaix’s lyrical cycles create power. Simple, creative and energetic power. In this, Pourbaix understands how to compose – his arrangements are elegant in their watery textures.

Pourbaix’s album, A Pony Craig, Not Greg is dramatic in its backlit roomscape. It’s full of strings and spacious arrangements. It’s thick with that kind of density brought forward by the heaviest of theorems, realizations, or people. It’s a weight that you cannot create – if you are not full of iron. But what gives all of Pourbaix’s arrangements “pop”, is his use of space and air. You can hear it between the instruments, in his voice and in all that darkness around him. As is the case for any living organism, air is necessary. For Pourbaix’s music, it’s equally critical: For the music to breath, to provide the listener a medium to swim in, but most of all the air is for Pourbaix himself to breathe.

Admittedly, he spends a wealth of his time battling anxiety in its myriad of forms. In an effort to solve any unnecessary anxiety, Pourbaix is methodical. He lives on his routines: How he wakes, when he goes running, when he eats and when he works. Deliberately, he runs through his sets in the quiet of his home. In a way, he is intentional – but he has to be, to escape the doldrums that only anxiety can create. In another way, Tim Pourbaix is the envy of the creative world: More than active, he is pro-active.

And so, while one may wonder why – if Pourbaix has so elegantly arranged all of his songs for the array of instruments that appear on his album – why does he stand on those stages alone? For his CD release party at the Larimer, he had his voluptuous album for sale – but he stood on that stage all by himself. So, why?

In this author’s opinion this is on account of the fact that these songs and this act are distinctly Pourbaix. He played in previous full bands like Teapot and Bear vs. Larger Bear. And he has his other outfit, Killfix – a full, raucous act that is loud and rounded. But Pourbaix’s solo act feels much more personal. From afar, it appears to be a therapeutic act – an attempt at overcoming fear and anxiety. But closer up, it’s much more personal.

If you notice one thing about Pourbaix on stage, it is his eyes. They are intense and staring a thousand yards away. His movements with his guitar mimic this power and delivery. For him, the eyes are a mirror. His glance, a challenge. A give and take in his delivery and the reception that is met with his performance. And where he stands in that solitary spot of bravery on all those stages – his eyes reach out and into the blackened audience challenging listeners to exercise their bravery. Sometimes just standing in front of a question is the answer. Sometimes witnessing is power-enough. And sometimes, if you are mindful enough – the question and the answer will mirror back to you everything that is sufficient for you to understand.

In this, Tim Pourbaix is on to something big. In this, Tim Pourbaix is something big.

Come take a look and a listen: www.myspace.com/timpourbaixmusic.