Tim Hecker

Ravedeath, 1972

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A title like Ravedeath, 1972 is great because of all the possible associations it calls up. A time-traveling techno explosion, a John Brunner novel title, a 1960s Frug winding down in a horrible dry gulch? Whatever all the possible associations, when Tim Hecker begins the album with the at-once shuddering feedback glitch and distant soothing bliss of "The Piano Drop," the Canadian composer does seem to thrive in an intersection of possibilities from multiple sources. If the principle of plundering the past to create the future is well established, Hecker engagingly demonstrates how the many possibilities it offers remains open. Split into three multi-part pieces and several stand-alone compositions -- some with titles continuing the titular approach, such as "Analog Paralysis, 1978" -- the overall effect of Ravedeath, 1972 is a balance between sheer sonic wooziness and a focused sense of construction; nothing seems wholly random in each song's development even as the feeling can be increasingly disorienting. Of the multi-part pieces, the first, "In the Fog," lives up to the name -- instead of enveloping obscurity, however, it's more like a serene float in darkness, with the organ tone loop running throughout the second and third parts providing a bed that whirs and arcing grinds rise and fall on, an underscoring of violence that melds and contrasts with the otherwise calm progression. The concluding "In the Air" almost inverts this, with the feedback tones and growls stabbing out more directly in the first part while the second increasingly brings in the otherwise half-sensed piano. "Hatred of Music," meanwhile, doesn't sound like a radical change from the other parts in terms of overall feel or in matching with the title's sentiment, but the low rhythmic rumble of the second part, a steady progression punctuated by soft piano additions and what sounds like a howling, looming threat in the distance, is pure atmosphere at its best. Then there's "No Drums," which finds in its own calm way the kind of beautiful, dark-toned ambience that has informed the best work in the field of disturbing but never aggressive electronic music.

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