Tim Hecker - Love Streams

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:7 Release Date:2016-04-09

I've been listening to Tim Hecker's eighth album, Love Streams, quite a bit lately, and I just can't seem to get a handle on the dang thing. It's a fractured, beautiful, nightmarish mess that lingers in the air like poison gas mixed with ambrosia. The Canadian-born Hecker travelled to Iceland to record the album, and there's definitely an icy, Björkish quality to the whole affair.

The album leads off with a pretty straightforward electro melody in 'Obsidian Counterpoint', but promptly weirds out, bringing in some of guest musician Grímur Helgason's woodwind arrangements before a wave of energy pulses through the center and fuzzes out everything else.

'Live Leak Instrumental' sounds like Autechre circa Oversteps. I didn't notice it at first, but on one playthrough while I wasn't paying attention, it snuck up on me: rambling electro melody, big, intermittent percussion banging about, and a very spacious feel, with lots of echoing and bass.

'Music of the Air' is like a garbled radio signal from an alien afterlife, with xenoangels singing their soothing tunes through a staticky mist. These angels are the Icelandic Choir Ensemble, who do a fantastic job of providing an ethereal, otherwordly quality to the music when they glide overhead.

'Collapse Sonata' has pulses of melody that fade and reassert, fade and reassert, over and over, before the song takes a turn into some creepy void space and unleashes the robozombies, like a Whovian nightmare.

And those are pretty much all the elements of the music, rearranged and reorganized in different combinations and proportions: simple electronic melodies, ghostly singing, walls of noise like a radio stuck between stations, disturbing hollow areas, and massive percussion, like old train cars crashing together inside a cave a thousand miles away. Every time I listen to it, I feel like I'm clawing at mists and coming up empty-handed. This feels like the soundtrack for life in another solar system.  It's not so much spacey as it is just inhuman. But somehow, it's also profoundly reverent, almost spiritual. I don't want to use the word "challenging", as this isn't a random spattering of noise, at all, but it's complicated to listen to, definitely.

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