Friday, February 25, 2011

Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972 (2011)

Tim Hecker is a drone artist whose albums always have a deep sense of concept. For his sixth LP he became obsessed with sonic decay, and the consistency of the concept this time around is so obviously wonderful that could easily be an installation on a museum. The record is called “Ravedeath, 1972” and the cover art shows people destroying the first MIT Baker House Piano in 1972, this story began with a project of some students to make an assignment for a professor of the university, and has something to do with alums wanting to film the piano drop with a high speed camera; the project got an A and the piano drop became a tradition in the MIT Baker House dorm since then.

I’m sure the idea of the MIT tradition had something to do originally with the project; and Hecker made the record in two stages, the first one being a church in Reykjavik, Iceland; where he recorded the echo and distant sound of a groaning pipe organ to make the base of the entire LP. The second part was released in studio under the production of Ben Frost (who’s well known for very heavy toned ambient experimentations as well that goes from the minimal quietness of ambient to the powerful noise of black metal). The studio part of “Ravedeath, 1972” incorporated the drones and sounds that Frost is accustomed and shows the capacity of Hecker to play with heavy synth and noise until the experimentation becomes a powerful shoegaze sound very claustrophobic at times.

The first track “The Piano Drop” starts with a lot of violence, with a heavy electronic scratch over the pipe organ, the synths tremble back and forward and sometimes allows the listener to come inside the melody and suddenly backs him out again with another scratch, a very interesting layered opener that plays with static and ends with abrupt silence and the sound of the piano drop on the beginning of the second track. This act of violence against the piano sets the mood and starts giving all sorts of tones to the constant presence of the church’s organ pipe and goes trashing that sound with incredible violence through out every song, a feeling that gets unbearable in the “Hatred Of Music II”.

It always seems that the message Hecker is trying to get behind the noise is that the way we consume music with technology sometimes doesn’t add to it beauty but destroys the concept and opens it until the message gets lost behind everything. Kind of remind me the reading I did of the concept behind the Alexander McQueen’s fashion show named “Weird Science”, if in that moment McQueen was talking about the aggressive nature that technology can have against fashion and humanity when not used properly, Hecker is communicating exactly the same but with music, maybe is a little harsh for a fashion designer destroy the closing dress with mechanical arms throwing paint at it, and is the same idea of Hecker throwing trash sounds over a pure sound. But in the end Hecker’s message goes further, everything doesn’t get lost, because “In The Air III” two songs after the “Studio Suicide”, the studio sounds finally die, and all that’s left is the sound of the pipe organ and a piano recorder live from the church.

I see this record (no matter the unbearable that it can seem to get and the claustrophobic nature it has standing in the listener point of view), a quality of spectacle that not much artist attribute to modernity and Hecker seems to know very well, these age could be about destroying and pure creations are about surviving, this is a performance piece of theatrical quality that portrays the survival of music, no matter how much trash you throw over it, in the end music will always survive on a pure state.


1. The Piano Drop
2. In The Fog I
3. In The Fog II
4. In The Fog III
5. No Drums
6. Hatred Of Music I
7. Hatred Of Music II
8. Analog Paralysis, 1978
9. Studio Suicide
10. In The Air I
11. In The Air II
12. In The Air III

Rate: 8.6/10

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1 comment:

  1. Great review (of an amazing album)! I've got a track review for "The Piano Drop" coming up in a few days. Hecker is a force!