Tim Hecker
An Imaginary Country


4.5
superb

Review

by Mike Stagno EMERITUS
March 9th, 2009 | 28 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: With An Imaginary Country, Tim Hecker not only perfects his trade, but also manages to reinvent his ambient stylings.

Three months into 2009, you'll be hard pressed to find a more accurately titled album than An Imaginary Country. Derived from a Charles Debussy quote which the Montreal based Tim Hecker took to refer to as a sort of "utopian" idea, Hecker's seventh record is exactly that – music for a utopian society. As pretentious as that sounds, it's a fitting description of An Imaginary Country, which takes Hecker's work in a more natural, outdoors-y direction.

Much like Kranky Records labelmates, Pan American and Stars of the Lid, An Imaginary Country's indulgences lie firmly within the realm of ambient drone. But what separates Tim Hecker's latest release from the likes of White Bird Release, Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again, and Harmony in Ultraviolet is the nature by which Hecker builds his compositions. Rather than relying on a stripped down, minimalist sound, An Imaginary Country utilizes heavy walls of noise that recall My Bloody Valentine just as much as any of Hecker's contemporaries. These layers, best exemplified in opener "100 Years Ago" and closer "200 Years Ago", play off as a rhythmic backbone to Hecker's writings. Interestingly, though the buzz that filters through An Imaginary Country is quite loud, Hecker aims for a more passive atmosphere. The mellotrons and synthesizers are never forceful or obtrusive; instead, the almost melodious sounding fuzz provides the album with a stunning backdrop.

Though An Imaginary Country strongly emphasizes said layers of white noise to the point where they can seem omnipresent, the subtle, electronic textures underneath is where Tim Hecker works his real magic. "Sea of Pulses" demonstrates such approaches exceedingly well; soft keys compliment the heavy drone influences, making for a sparkling sound not usually associated with Hecker's music. The layers of noise periodically recede, as illustrated by the likes of "Currents of Electrostasy" and "Paragon Point", and from here Hecker's sound is at its richest. Ultimately, though An Imaginary Country is meant to be listened to as a whole, these songs exhibit Hecker at his most personal and laidback. Unlike Mirages or even parts of Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again, which emphasized a darker, more demanding sound, An Imaginary Country focuses on more beautiful, positive components. As such, An Imaginary Country is Hecker's easiest record to absorb, given its warm and serene dispositions.

All in all, An Imaginary Country is probably Tim Hecker's most accessible album. In a way, the record bridges together the elements heard on previous albums, only without regurgitating old ideas. An Imaginary Country encompasses a diverse song set, ranging from the loud shoegaze influenced numbers such as "100 Years Ago" to the sparse (hell, almost silent) "Utropics" to the lush aesthetics of "A Stop at the Chord Cascades". The album's eight and a half minute long centrepiece, "Where Shadows Make Shadows", effectively incorporates all of these characteristics at some point or another, offering up one of the strongest tracks of Hecker's career. In the end, An Imaginary Country is essentially a droning ambient album that doesn't ever really pointlessly drone or meander on and on. Tim Hecker has not only perfected his trade over seven albums, but more importantly he has consistently been able to reinvent his music. And let's be honest, real countries couldn't inspire an album as good as this.



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user ratings (160)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
FourSquare20 (3.5)
A solid album of ambient soundscapes from Tim Hecker that unfortunately can't escape the shadow of H...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Athom
Emeritus
March 9th 2009


17241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i just got this the other day. its amazingly good.

pixiesfanyo
March 9th 2009


1223 Comments


Hecker is cool. I think he doesn't match up to people like Willitis and Fennesz though.

gaslightanthem
March 9th 2009


5209 Comments


never actually listened to Hecker :-(

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
March 9th 2009


3896 Comments


If I'm not in the mood Hecker shits me to tears, but this I can take.

tarethere
March 9th 2009


184 Comments


his stuff is always good for sleeping and studying

robin
Emeritus
March 9th 2009


4426 Comments


definetely gonna get it based on mirages.

Refl
March 9th 2009


43 Comments


Really good stuff.

In pulses you just long for some kind of beat pounding underneath that track, great way to build tension.

joshuatree
Emeritus
March 9th 2009


3741 Comments


ive liked a lot of the hecker stuff ive heard, like radio amor and harmony in ultraviolet, so ill eventually get this for sure

Doppelganger
March 9th 2009


3124 Comments


only thing I've heard from him was his collab with Aidan Baker and it was pretty cool, so I'll probably check this out

MassiveAttack
March 9th 2009


2754 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

whoa. whoa. New Time Hecker? Hello.

204409
Emeritus
March 10th 2009


3998 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Ya I got this purely on the strength of this review and I'm enjoying it.

kitsch
March 10th 2009


5117 Comments


great review.
yea i love hecker so i need this.

anyone got a link?

Aficionado
March 10th 2009


1027 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Oh man oh man I gotta get this, I was just listening to Harmony in Ultra Violet and re-discovering its brillaince, and contrary to what Pixies said, Hecker is probably one of the best ambient composers out there today.

Mikesn
Emeritus
March 10th 2009


3708 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Definitely. I'd still like to hear Fennesz though.

Mikesn
Emeritus
March 10th 2009


3708 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

oh u

P13
March 11th 2009


1327 Comments


this is excellent

204409
Emeritus
March 18th 2009


3998 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm not freaking out about this but it's definitely a strong album. I also thought that Stars of the Lid album was really tedious and lame so maybe I am just really picky about ambient as a genre.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
March 19th 2009


2126 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, this is a great record, but I actually think it has nothing on Stars of the Lid. I think I'm pretty picky about ambient as well, but probably for different reasons. Stars of the Lid (pretty much all of their albums except for the first one) and a few of Eno's albums are as good as music gets in my opinion, but I don't really enjoy a huge amount of other artists in the genre.

Neoteric
March 21st 2009


3243 Comments


Tim Hecker rules. Nice one.

EDIT: wow, i'm still a staff reviewer here? crazy!This Message Edited On 03.21.09

Essence
March 29th 2009


5817 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

lol?



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