In Henry Neville’s 1668 novel The Isle of Pines, he depicts a utopian island where the introduction of technology and weaponry pushes the once peaceful population to the brink of civil war. It seems fitting, then, that musician and current McGill undergraduate student Tim Beeler would name his music project Isle of Pine after Neville’s work. Isle of Pine, initially the result of two days spent recording with a Tascam 02 four-track cassette recorder and a $4 karaoke microphone, shows the beauty of simplicity.
The product of those two days, spent recording in Beeler’s woodland house in New Hampshire is the Marches demo (Pt. 1). In an email interview with The Daily, Beeler explained how Isle of Pine “came at a time that I was feeling kind of distant from my songwriting and this really gave me a chance to make music that I was really excited about.” With his mother’s old four-track, “a handmade guitar, a tambourine, [and] a pill bottle,” Beeler’s minimalist setup proved successful.
Once back in New Hampshire for the summer, Beeler continued recording, which lead to his second release, Kettle States. “I would come home from work every day and track something. Ignoring the obvious limitations of recording to tape, it was a pretty perfect situation – there’s something really organic about recording without too much technological interference. You’re forced to simplify. Everything takes on a sort or permanence (for a short while, at least) that a click-and-delete-able computer track doesn’t have… When you don’t have Logic or ProTools right in front of you, you’re sort of forced to embrace the tape hiss and ambient noise as part of the song. It also roots things in a specific moment” Beeler reflected.
It was these organic, beautifully authentic recordings that lead Isle of Pine – with musical backing by a couple friends – to snag a spot in this year’s POP Montreal Music festival. However, music isn’t Beeler’s only talent. Some of his creative writing has also been published in a few of McGill’s campus media outlets including the McGill Daily and Steps Magazine. Beeler’s poetry is imbued with the same heart-felt honesty as his lyrics, although the two remain artistically separate: “Joni Mitchell once said something about how some artists need different outlets for different emotions. Lyrics are, in a strange way, pretty separate from poetry for me… I’m almost always more satisfied if I write the words to really match the feeling of the song… Even if that results in a few songs where the lyrics are less than transcendent. Some of them are just pop songs with heart.” And at the end of the day, what’s POP Montreal without a little heart?