Monday, July 11, 2011

Ravedeath, 1972 - Tim Hecker

Ravedeath, 1972

Tim Hecker
Kranky Records.

SCQ Rating: 77%

Tim Hecker’s music shirks casual listeners for a number of reasons. Everything from his confrontational sonic approach to his records’ obsessive conceptual ties make the Montreal veteran the kind of artist most crossover, electro-pop enthusiasts would hold at arm’s length. Being a recent convert myself – thanks to the impeccably designed An Imaginary Country – I must admit that the lead-up to Ravedeath, 1972 actually forced me to abate all expectations. For one, the album’s based on a single day’s worth of recording. Secondly, that recording was focused almost entirely on an old, Icelandic church organ. Thirdly (and this may seem irrelevant), Hecker responded to a query about the meaning of the album’s title by stating “I have no idea”. None of these three facts independently illustrated the thought and tact typically reserved for an event on the scale of a new Tim Hecker full-length and, so, like I had years before, I held Ravedeath, 1972 at arm’s length.

Should’ve known better. Ravedeath, 1972 overcomes its monotony-flirting focus and careless origins by crafting sheer magic out of splintered sounds and whirling notes. Aiming to create more than a patient remixing of that single day’s worth of noodling, Hecker has forged another world unto itself; still prickly with unrest but gorgeous in his uncompromising methods. The palette, relying almost exclusively on digitized organ pieces, lends an increased sense of claustrophobia over Ravedeath, 1972’s three song-suites. The calm center of ‘In the Fog’ gives way to serrated feedback in its third act’ whilst ‘In the Air’ gradually eases into a subdued ambience as it progresses. Although doggedly stormy and agitated might sound par for the course when it comes to Tim Hecker, Ravedeath, 1972 represents perhaps Hecker’s best attempt at making chaos – deconstructed and compiled again – sound at peace with its processes. Few records have such dueling abilities, to both calm and overwhelm, but Hecker has done it again here with a complicated yet embraceable ambient record.

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