What’s that on the cover of Harmony in Ultraviolet
? Some sort of memorial wall, or something; ostensibly a sort of “unspecific” image cropped or otherwise edited to become specific. That is, who knows how long that wall goes on or how many pictures are on there? Zoom the image out and it becomes a mosaic of dead soldiers that forms a blue (or, if you wish, ultraviolet) blob; the kind that this album emanates throughout. Zoom back in and there are these faces
, these ghosts
. This album is not Sputnik user MichaelJordan’s ideal of the electronic album, “utterly removed from the human”. It is both the blue fuzz and the faces. This is an album that has all the recognizable traits of an electronic album “removed from the human”--laptop-birthed fuzz and drone, a lack of vocals, a masked sense of melody--but is also movingly human. The spirit of the faces on that blue mosaic-fuzz wall hang over this album.
The album’s most stunning moment is unsurprisingly the one that indulges in the most primitive of human emotions. For about 16 minutes (from opener “Blood Rainbow” through “Palimpsest II”) the album goes through a complex sort of build, with various peaks and gorges, creating a six-track tension more effective than most artists can manage in one. Then, on “Spring Heeled Jack Flies Tonight,” Hecker lets it rip. Though the album is less than halfway done by that time, “Spring Heeled Jack” is what can be called the climax; where the human emotions and the “inhuman” buzz and whirr converge and mesh together until they are unrecognizable and then shoot into the stratosphere; in an abstract way, the most accurate way I can describe it is that it’s like the magical scene in Peter Pan
where Peter and the children fly around London, sped up and amplified a thousand times over. It’s a stimulating three minutes not only in a cerebral way (as MJ’s archetype of electronic music would have it), but, perhaps more importantly, in a deeply personal way. “Spring Heeled Jack” demonstrates what Harmony in Ultraviolet
exceeds at: it paradoxically both zooms in on and zooms out on the wall of faces, showing the infinite expanse of this gorgeously nebulous canvas but also revealing each individual face, millions of which are miraculously and poignantly in harmony; this harmony in ultraviolet.