Tim Hecker: Harmony in Ultraviolet

Tim Hecker
Harmony in Ultraviolet

Call Canadian Tim Hecker's fourth full-length release (and first for drone-oriented American label Kranky) "ambient for bombardiers." Like onetime-tourmates Isis, Hecker's focus is on the molten core of metal—the drones, distortions, compressed crunching, and industrial noises that course underneath its notes and riffs. Not surprisingly, one of his earliest releases deconstructed and distended Van Halen's "Ain't Talking 'Bout Love" to more ambient ends.

The display of WWII-era portraiture on Harmony in Ultraviolet's cover suggests a cenotaph to downed pilots (in actuality it's an anti-fascist memorial), while the overhead shot of Bologna, Italy, on the interior forebodes the imminent firebombing. Hecker's focus, though, is on the interior of that flying fortress, a blurry suite of movements rife with churns and buzzes. At these stratospheric heights, the guitar's distinct qualities are made fuzzy and uncertain via laptop and digital effects. If you melted off the pop structure from My Bloody Valentine's Loveless with some molten magma, you'd have a good idea of Hecker's sound.

Flow is maintained throughout, as Tim Hecker apparently understands that ever-tricky notion of fluid dynamics. He breaks up motifs (see "Palimpsest") with churning ebbs and digressions but keeps together the pinnacle suite, "Whitecaps of White Noise." And while Hecker has always been an adept craftsman, Harmony reveals his mastery of the idiom. Washes now feel oceanic, as epic and evocative ripples take shape out of unplumbed depths of feedback and distorted peals.

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