Canadian Tim Hecker has been a respected force on the electronica scene since his debut Haunt Me Haunt Me, Do It Again, came out in 2001 (in addition to his work as Jetone). Since then, he has consistently released experimental ambient music that broadens standard compositional barriers while still remaining accessible, and such is the case with Harmony in Ultraviolet, Hecker's fourth full-length. Though most of the tracks on the album are separate entities -- including each part of "Harmony in Blue" -- they work together to form an idea that's greater than its individual elements: a sense of exploration and sadness and understanding of the infiniteness and uncertainty and expanse of the world. Themes are introduced -- a looped arpeggio, a distorted guitar riff, lone keyboard notes -- but nothing is ever fully developed, nothing ever completely exposes itself. Instead, there's a suggestion that's built-up and expounded upon but never quite resolved, long notes that pull themselves in and out of focus are favored over melodies, leaving a kind of agitation in the listener like the dark restlessness of an industrial city. Three notes make a chord but somehow Hecker's don't, they're so different in texture and scope; in fact, they seem almost peacefully at odds with one another, aware of the others' existences but content to ignore them. It's the music of a gray urban skyline, of the kind of loneliness that comes from being around too many other people, of rusted fences and cold empty windows and distance, music that swells and crescendos, sets itself up for the denouement but never arrives at the climax; it's endlessly patient yet eager to move on. Wet bass notes and emaciated electric guitars, awash with distortion, crush together with programmed noise and drones, sounds erupt and are then dismissed, fifty minutes of questions and intimations, of resignation and acceptance, but not -- definitely not -- of answers. We'll have to find those ourselves.
AllMusic Review by Marisa Brown