On My Love Is Rotten to the Core, his second recording for Substractif in less than a year, Tim Hecker again assembles a seamless experimental work of computer-constructed ambience. He does so without using a single beat, or anything else normally associated with traditional ambient music. He instead collects snippets of interviews, live concert recordings, and other found sounds associated with the popular '80s "cock rock" band Van Halen. Yes, Van Halen; it's indeed a strange choice, yet one with which most listeners will probably have some familiarity. The album opens with "Introducing Carl Cocks," the album's most amazing track. It's highlighted by a sliced-and-diced riff of Eddie Van Halen's trademark guitar playing. The song segues into "Sammy Loves Eddie Hates David," a collage of radio interview-style oratory alluding to the band's notorious personal conflicts, and then "Hello Detroit," a similar collage of live concert recordings. From there, the album slowly fades away from the Van Halen references to murky silence. Commissioned by Eric Mattson for Volt-AA, My Love Is Rotten to the Core is brief, lasting less than 25 minutes, and it's also quite conceptual. If you're unfamiliar with Van Halen, you'll miss much of this album's ideological richness. Of course, there's much more to this album than Van Halen references, though. Hecker assaults you with layers upon layers of powerful, affective ambience. It's moving, for sure, and it's also foreboding, but not really soothing or lulling. Darkness and despair permeate the album. Van Halen was a troubled band despite its success, and Hecker seems most interested in the band's underlying anxiety and tension. On this album, he presents a suitable soundtrack of anxious and tense ambience. It's a marvelous idea and an incredibly unlikely one that works brilliantly, much like what you'd expect from this enormously talented producer.
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AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier