Tim Barnes

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The drummer Tim Barnes was important in three ways: as an expansive experimental percussionist (and producer/engineer on the side) who had one foot in the downtown New York avant-jazz community while…
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The drummer Tim Barnes was important in three ways: as an expansive experimental percussionist (and producer/engineer on the side) who had one foot in the downtown New York avant-jazz community while contributing to more traditional indie rock projects; as the owner of the Quakebasket label, distributors of limited-edition and broader releases of work by contemporary experimenters as well as careful reissues; and, finally, via his day job, where he helped bridge the worlds of indie rock and music licensing for advertising.

Barnes emerged in the late 1990s, contributing to indie rock staples like the Silver Jews and the Elephant 6-affiliated Essex Green, as well as pop-fancying avant-garde mainstay Jim O'Rourke. Barnes found a kindred spirit in another O'Rourke pal, drummer Glenn Kotche, with whom he tandem-drummed on O'Rourke's Halfway to a Threeway and his classic Insignificance. Like Kotche, who went on to drum for Wilco, Barnes used the drum kit as a melodic tool, filling rock rhythms with textures pulled from an innate knowledge of his kits' textures (demonstrated on Barnes' almost puritanically drummy solo debut, All Acoustics).

Barnes contributed frequently to the recordings of New England hippie noise guitarist Matt Valentine, including Tower Recordings and MV & EE. He hovered on the edge of Sonic Youth's world, as well, joining the band for their deeply psychedelic Koncertas Stan Brakhage Prisiminimui release and serving as occasional member in Lee Ranaldo's Text of Light.

Established in 1999 to reissue a pair of albums of founding Velvet Underground drummer (and legendary drone technician in his own right) Angus MacLise, Barnes' Quakebasket imprint became an outlet for himself and other drummers, including numerous projects with Kotche (who returned the favor by bringing Barnes along for Wilco's 2004 Ghost Is Born sessions).

Throughout his career, Barnes maintained day jobs as commercial sound designer and a suggester of music for advertisements. Because of his involvement, avant-garde and indie acts were paired with commercials, including Apples in Stereo, the Sea and Cake, German experimenters Faust, and free jazz drummer and educator Milford Graves.