Timur and the Dime Museum: Boldly Straddling the Worlds of Classical Music and Pop

Photo by Ted AYALA Tenor Timur Bekbosunov in performance at the Paper and Plastik Cafe on Feb. 19.


“There only exists two kinds of music: good and bad.” This oft-quoted phrase – attributed to everyone from Duke Ellington to Dmitri Shostakovich – never rings more true than with the art of local tenor Timur Bekbosunov. His fusion of classical and pop sensibilities explored through his Dime Museum project – which was covered in this paper last year – continues to thrive allowing this inquiring musical mind to mature and grow.

Bekbosunov belongs to a new generation of musicians that refuses to see music as genres compartmentalized into different bacteria-free chambers. Through Bekbosunov’s voice and the cracker-jack work of the Dime Museum band (with sterling arrangements by band member Daniel Corral) avant-garde music, cabaret, pop, and Russian folk music sits side-by-side in a giddy amalgam of cultures and voices.

Under the fury and cold of a powerful storm system that could be heard hammering away at the Paper and Plastik Café’s (5772 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles) roof – the venue where Timur and the Dime Museum’s Saturday, Feb. 19th concert was held – Timor brought out his dazzling, Technicolor array of musical fusion to an audience that was plentiful despite the rain.

Before the concert began, Timur premiered his new music video where he sings David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” (a teaser for this video can be found on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OOdNv6-qvM) directed by Bekbosunov’s collaborator, Sandra Powers. Produced in Machu Pichu, Powers’ native Peru, the artfully shot video matched the ache and wonder of Bowie’s song and Bekbosunov’s masterly rendition of it.

In contrast to last year’s program at the ALOUD series at the Los Angeles Central Library, this program saw band member and arranger come into his own as an outstanding songwriter as well as arranger. Corral was the single most represented composer on the program and his Bekbosunov’s interpretations laid out Corral’s talent most attractively.

Dagle’s Eyes, a number from an upcoming puppet opera collaboration between Corral and Bekbosunov, was especially memorable. A half-lit world
that brought a modern sensibility to the operetta genre, Corral’s acidulous aria was outstanding.

A few numbers from the last year’s program were encored this time around, including a knock-out interpretation of Trent Reznor’s “Closer” that saw Bekbosunov writhe on the floor ecstatically in a paroxysm of lust.

“We’re not going to do the G-rated version this time,” Bekbosunov grinned before he launched into an intense barrage of outré vocalizations that was matched eye-to-eye by the Dime Museum’s appropriately lascivious accompaniment. As Timur lay breathless on the floor after the song ground to a close, the audience went wild.

Echoing the work of another kindred spirit that sought to fuse the worlds of classical music and pop, Bekbosunov sang a stunning cover of “Total Eclipse,” which was a memorable staple of the brilliant, but short-lived German singer Klaus Nomi. Bekbosunov’s stunning vocalism seared the audience. There is no doubt, this was no mere cover of a song: Bekbosunov owned that song last Saturday.

After all the manic intensity of the earlier part of the program, the concert closed with composer Kristian Hoffman’s “Light of the World.” A wistful but sardonic song that wove its knowing spell over the listeners, it seemed especially appropriate in light of the tumultuous events that are taking place both at home and abroad the past few weeks.

“We make religion out of fear […] When all the killing gets so serious/let’s get ethereal/in the light of the world,” crooned Bekbosunov.