Tim Smith has many epithets: marmite of the music world; master of experimentation; unsung hero in mainstream charts; and, most famously, leader of a cult following.
But for many who love him, he is, above all, a genius in the art of therapeutic music.
A man whose sound has resisted categorisation in the mainstream world, the Cardiacs frontman has nevertheless inspired a devoted fanbase willing to do all they can to support his recovery from a stroke and heart attack, for which he requires full-time care.
Among his followers are Lancashire acts Ahsa, Sean Keefe, Adam Shaw, Jackpot Golden Boys, Sweet Deals on Surgery and Polymorphic Love Orchestra, who are playing mini festival, “The Whole World Window”, a benefit gig set up by promoter Greg Braysford, also known as DJ BIK. All proceeds will be used to support the singer’s recovery.
The intricacy of Tim’s arrangements, even fusing medieval and classical elements into what is commonly described as “prog punk”, echo the rhythms of the brain, from the jarring and the riddling to the manic and the harmonious. It’s an approach to music that can be hard for listeners, at first, to “get”. But once they do, his startling understanding of the power of music to mirror and offer insight into the mind seems to act as recourse during times of mental struggle.
It’s something Debz Love Lewis, of Polymorphic Love Orchestra, a pop band with a twist of psychedelic punk, can relate to: “Music has always been very emotional to me. When I was introduced to Cardiacs, it was like an epiphany, a bolt out of the blue. I’d never heard anything like it. I was hooked”.
“Tim has changed people’s lives. His music has helped me through depression, one particular song encouraging me to rethink a difficult situation. You can only really understand the complexity of the music, I think, if your brain is all over the place. For me, getting it was instant”.
Bandmate David Sheridon agreed: “The music of Cardiacs has been a paramount influence to my life. It’s truly music of the soul, music that has such tremendous feeling. It captures the spirit of life, and speaks genuinely from the heart, in a way that nothing else can match. Tim writes in such a genuinely magical and beautiful way that captivates the full spectrum of human emotion, remarkably, often in just one song! That he does so with such humility, and with genuine love, is testament to the nature of the man and to his talent”.
Fans, Debz explained, which include the likes of Blur and Radiohead, can be compared to football fanatics offering life-or-death support to their team: “Every chance I had to see them I took. I’ve been to about 15 shows now, which is nothing compared to some fans: for them it’s more like 100”.
“The sway Tim has is ridiculous. I even jumped out of an aeroplane to raise money for him.”
But the influence he holds is equally a result of his character: “He doesn’t”, Debz said, “get why people think he’s so talented. And that’s what makes him even more special.”
David agreed: “He’s a genuinely beautiful human being, and incredibly worthy of the plaudits and superlatives that his music commands. In addition to being a very encouraging, thoughtful and gracious friend, he has always been supportive to both ourselves, The Polymorphic Love Orchestra, and to countless other bands and musicians”.
“So we were absolutely honoured to be asked to be part of the benefit show. Not only is it a wonderful cause, to help Tim financially, but it’s also a celebration and a tribute to his influence on all of the bands performing. I hope it lifts his spirit to know just how loved and appreciated he is”.
“Greg has worked so hard in organising the event and I’m sure I speak for everyone involved when I pass on my own personal gratitude for such a worthy cause”.
The gig will take place all day over two stages at The Continental, Preston, on Saturday, July 16th, from 2pm.
Tickets cost £15 and can be booked at either www.seetickets.com or www.wegottickets.com
Play ALL HAIL HYENA! vocalist Jay Stansfield’s Cardiacs-inspired game here: http://www.stencyl.com/game/play/34198