on July 4, 2011
When winter arrives and the sky goes grey I like to close the blinds of my apartment, turn the heater up to eleven and cuddle up in my bed. Usually this custom of mine goes together with the computer placed on my bed and a thick blanket of music that fills up the air around me. When this morning I glanced outside and there was no apparent source of sunlight to be seen, the never-ending stretch of clouds had me a little bit excited as I figured this would be the perfect moment to experience the new Tim Hecker release, on the Chicago based Kranky imprint. Ravedeath, 1972 is the result of a live improvisation session in a church in Reykjavik and the studio process that followed afterward. Recorded with the support of none other than Ben Frost, I anticipated a throwback to the guitar themed noise that was so prominent with Hecker in his early EP, My Love is Rotten to the Core (Substractif, 2002). The two installments of "Hatred of Music", "Analog Paralysis" and "Studio Suicide" also had me brace for a grim listening experience much like Frost's By the Throat (Bedroom Community, 2009). But when the heavily edited organs start to buzz through my room, it seldom had me grind my teeth. Not that this is a bad thing. Hecker playfully combines his characteristic chromatic chords and dissonant layering of sounds with the special qualities of the 'studio'. The acoustic of the recording location rubs off on the already churchly character of Hecker's work. He takes full effect of the reverb that the church permits, creating even more dense structures with each layer of sound folding up on itself. The record does not get violent or grim, instead it feels like a careful study of different motives that entrance the listener. "In the Fog" is a suite consisting of three pieces that starts out with a landscape of sounds that has different tones colliding with one another much like waves hitting other waves near a cliff. At the end of the first installment, a rhythmic pulse sets in and the music becomes more fluent. This sine wave, that reminds me a lot of the pulse used by Jim O'Rourke in I am Happy and I am Singing and a 1, 2, 3, 4. (Mego, 2001), gradually fades out during the following section, before coming back in "In the Fog III". The inclusion of touches of the piano at the start of the third section is maybe a sign of Frost's presence. This together with the buzzing pulse and a growing almost dronish noise makes this the standout track for me. "Hatred of Music" starts out with high pitched ethereal waves of noise in which textures slowly turn into something darker. The light tones are transformed into multiple layers of sound that take shape in a grim dissonant sound sculpture. It is the first and only sign of the unnerving atmosphere I anticipated when putting on the record, but the moment is fleeting and quickly dissipates growing into a calm yet dark soundscape. The triptych "In the Air" functions as some kind of closing piece of the album. It starts off really accessible with nice soothing tones, but gradually gets filled with Hecker's heavy chromatic chords. Ravedeath, 1972 very much builds up on his previous work. The typical dense layering of sound is something Hecker has mastered like no other and the abstract form of his music creates a different experience for every listener and on each listen. I feel as if Ben Frost's major influence was in the inclusion of some more pure tones. Both the touches of piano in "In The Fog" and the steady guitar based drones that are present in "Hatred of Music". This is good music to listen to or rather experience on a day when the weather does not let up. Recommended for listeners that enjoy Fennesz, Stars of the Lid and Lawrence English.
on January 10, 2012
(Taken from my blog at [...])
Here is a record that crept up on me. I'm not sure what I was expecting but this thing crawled on top of me before I could even accept it, forcing me to, in a way. Tim Hecker has created a world that sounds like neo noir back alleys coupled with universal light, drenched in a milky black skin. It's dark but ultimately ethereal and completely rewarding.
Many people describe entertainment as "escapism", forgetting their current problems and drifting to a different place for a while. This may not be what they had in mind but it fits the description in the truest sense of the word: this is unfiltered escapism at its finest. It is a grey, instrumental zone and almost forces you to drop the curtain on your eyes and become something entirely different than the normal existence of feeling human.
Music is often described as conveying emotions that cannot be said with words. "Ravedeath 1972" fits that term in the purest way.
on April 5, 2011
8th release since 2001 from this conceptual electronic experimentalist out of Montreal, Canada.
Recorded in an Icelandic church with a pipe organ as the primary sound source, here's a chance
to be engulfed by a cathartic, dark & sweeping beauty--on a ride of gently soaring and
continuously expansive soundwave vibrations with an infinite potential for universal
transcendence to an unknowable destination. A powerful, mesmerizing mix of subtly terrifying
drone-noise chasms in an ambrosial ambient haze of floating opiate spirituality. Recalls Ben
Frost (who plays on the album), Bjorn Olsson, Stars Of the Lid, Mike Oldfield.
on March 18, 2011
I love Tim Hecker's work. I love how you can disappear inside it, immerse yourself. I love how nothing ever seems to start or end; it just is. But I also love to distance myself from its mesmerizing spell and marvel at the sound's texture. I try to deconstruct how each track is arranged, how the album is put together. Tim's ear and taste is as good as Aphex Twin's or DJ Shadow's, the two giants who predate him and who, at surface, are so different. Hecker is meticulous in how he wants his albums to sound and works hard to make them interesting. They are ever changing and always satisfying.
Ravedeath 1972 is a wonderful work of art and a rich feast for your ears. For anyone interested in ambitious ambient electronica, this is a fantastic place to begin. The lines between "classical" and "popular" blur. Give yourself room to discover Hecker's latest opus. You will not be disappointed.
on February 28, 2012
The image of a piano headed toward certain destruction presages the absence of traditional music elements waiting in Ravedeath, 1972. It's also an omen of what our notion of music is going to look like after we experience this exploration of sonic potential. The entire album consists of conversations between sounds, at least that's the best word that I can use to describe this music. There are no beats or rhythms to set the tempo. The music is a collection of sounds that layer and mingle and mesh, harmoniously combining, disassembling, and submerging into one another. Despite the lack of percussion or beats moving everything along, there is a structural direction and flow that emerges from these combinations of elements. One sounds suggests another which leads to still another. Like the flow of topics in a pleasant conversation, each track pleasingly flows from one collection of closely related sounds to another.
Despite the almost free form feel of the album, a very strong sense of artistry and conscious creation permeates every manipulated sound. This is no mere mash-up of collected sounds or over-exuberant application of electronic tools to conventional music. Every elements feels curated to elicit just the right affect on the listener. The capable artist, confidently wielding every tool at his disposal to give his vision reality, is a strong presence in the album. He so successfully exposes the beauty present in the contrasts and textures of sound that our concept of music is effortlessly warped into something that freely places this work next to the more traditional fare offered by more conventional artists.
on May 23, 2011
I've listened to this album 5 or so times in digital format and I'm going to buy the LP. This is gorgeous music that just happens to be electronic. The sonic environment is very wet. It's not pure ambient though, there's a lot of melody and harmony going on. Pushing dissonances against the drone that resolve beautifully. Acoustic piano on one of the tracks. Pure gold. This is my first Tim Hecker record, I will be listening to more of them and I can't wait to hear this one on vinyl.