Tim Hecker - Love Streams

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  • To hear Tim Hecker put it, he's a rip-off artist. In the past he's sampled Van Halen riffs, rendering them noisy and sublime on his 2002 album, My Love Is Rotten To The Core. On Love Streams, his eighth album and first for 4AD, he's name-checking John Cassavetes' swansong film from 1984. As Hecker admitted to Rolling Stone recently, a great deal of Love Streams' sound comes from choral motifs he took from 15th century composer Josquin Des Prez. He recruited Academy-nominated soundtrack composer Jóhann Jóhannsson to arrange an Icelandic eight-piece choir, which he pitched down several tones and stretched out. Even the most bat-eared listener would be hard-pressed to make that connection. Love Streams' winding, tributary structure flows naturally but evades straight lines. The album boasts Hecker's broadest timbral palette to date: he moves effortlessly between the acoustic and the electronic, the gossamer and the wooly. Take the opening minutes of "Obsidian Counterpoint," where white noise folds into flute, which in turn folds into metallic thumps, which is soon subsumed in a low rumbling drone. Then it's as if Hecker zooms into that massive rumble, revealing little details unclear at a distance. Struck metal tones—not unlike West Indian steel pan—surface again on "Violet Monumental I," but just as their shimmer begins to suggest something like Steve Reich's Music For 18 Musicians, it recedes and an array of wordless voices, sounding alien in language yet wholly human in tenor, swarm it, along with the sort of bruising chord organ that Hecker used on 2011's Ravedeath, 1972. Soon the tones begin to combine into a confusing mass, the voices veering into the metallic sounds, the drone breaking apart until it more closely resembles a hiccup. Just as it turns into "Violet Monumental II" all becomes clear again, a bit of percussion and woodwinds rising to the fore. Veering between density and clarity, mass and weightlessness, it shows Hecker at his apex of sculptural abilities. The Icelandic choir, which may or may not be the blurry white mass on the album cover, can be most clearly identified on the ethereal yet churning "Castrati Stack," their voices merging with feedback and then separating again. It then changes into "Voice Crack," which seems to not pay homage to the cracked everyday electronics of its titular band, despite plenty of fussing electronics throughout. Here, Hecker does gibbering noise and jammed signals, but in tethering them to a heavenly choir, it makes for the album's most affecting three minutes. Moments like this make a title like Love Streams feel right. Cassavetes, an icon of American independent cinema, made emotionally tough films, seemingly unpolished but with a real sense of vitality to them. In Hecker's uncanny knack for blending noise and ineffable sound together, he makes for a turbulent sonic trip that ultimately feels redemptive.
  • Tracklist
      01. Obsidian Counterpoint 02. Music Of The Air 03. Bijie Dream 04. Live Leak Instrumental 05. Violet Monumental I 06. Violet Monumental II 07. Up Red Bull Creek 08. Castrati Stack 09. Voie Crack 10. Collapse Sonata 11. Black Phase