Reviews Tim Hecker Love Streams

Tim Hecker

Love Streams

Since 2001 Tim Hecker has been exploring the more adventurous sides of electronic music. The experimental scope of the artist has moved through dark territories, taking on elements of drone, noise, power electronics, constructing unique soundscapes of immense beauty. Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again, Ravedeath, 1972 and 2013's Virgins are just some of the essential work of Hecker, and now he moves on with Love Streams, his first album on label 4AD, and the slight steering of his style. Love Streams started out with a specific concept in Hecker's mind: to fully eviscerate and interrogate the human voice, taking on recordings of medieval choral motifs, and using Melodyne (audio effect, mainly used for pitch correction) to maximize the extent of this investigation. This, of course, makes it the first time that vocals appear in Hecker's works, and they are presented in the best manner, with the arrangements scored by Johan Johansson (composer of feature film scores, including The Theory of Everything and Sicario.)

Therefore, the vocals quickly become the spotlight of the record, with everything constructed through and around them, as Hecker manipulates and mutates their sound in order to achieve the optimal result. What rises quickly to the surface is the glitch bliss, something that constructs magical moments in “Music of The Air” and effecting other instruments, as is the case with the static presense of “Voice Crack.” However, there area also instances where the vocals are allowed a less intrusive presence, as happens with “Castrati Stack,” resulting in a majestic moment, as Hecker allows himself to indulge within a noisier setting, as explosions light up the soundscapes.

The music of Hecker is as immersive as it has always been, feeling more like an inner revelation is taking place, rather than an outside experience. The trip through the emotional spectrum and the mazes of the mind can be hard and devastating, mind-bending and dark, or even blissful and colorful. And that is where the biggest change comes with Love Streams, because Hecker essentially makes a statement regarding his style. He shifts away from the dark space, that he so carefully and meticulously constructed in the past, and freely roams in different territories. It is a cool coincidence (?) that Love Streams comes out in 4AD, since a lot of its sound is closely related to the releases of the label in the '80s, where dreamscapes ruled over pop music, and the dark waves appeared ethereal.

The melodic element of the album is much more powerful than in the previous works of Hecker. It does not share so much the bleak and dissonant light of its predecessor, which has been replaced with a harmonious, icy manifestation. The beautiful, otherworldly domain of Hecker is introduced brilliantly with “Obsidian Counterpoint,” radiating with a magical sense, a technique followed in “Collapse Sonata” with glimpses of a melodic, intelligent electronic presence. The glacial sense if further expanded in “Live Leak Instrumental,” seeing the soundscapes expanding further, with a loose industrial sense present under the surface. And, the turns towards more mainstream electronic patterns is further enhanced in this instance, as Hecker brings in a certain aura, which points towards that direction. The main lines of “Bijie Dream” carry that straightforward, electronic sense, while similarly “Violet Monumental” sees Hecker mutating the breeze-like synths through his twisted kaleidoscope.

That does not mean that the more twisted sound of Hecker has vanished. The drone domain actually merges nicely with the icy setting of the album, with “Violet Monumental I” introducing this hybrid state, alongside the mutilated voices and the abstract approach to create something unique. Similarly, “Up Red Bull Creek” features a moment of complete stillness where the majestic drones collide with the dreamscapes of this glacial extensions. Darkness, of course still radiates the record, although with a more melancholic tone, rather than a pessimistic quality. “Music of the Air” features such moments, while the complete peak is reached with the closing track, “Black Phase,” where Hecker dwells deeper into his heavier, more obscure world to finish the album on a high note.

Love Streams is an album of change. Hecker does not seem to be content with simply recycling works and motifs and strives for something different. Something causal, that will breathe new life into his compositions. It is quite a gamble, but it really works with Love Streams.

8.9 / 10Spyros Stasis
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4AD

2016

8.9 / 10

8.9 / 10

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