Tim Hecker
Ravedeath, 1972


4.0
excellent

Review

by Tyler Fisher EMERITUS
February 21st, 2011 | 362 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ambient music not for the faint of heart.

Tim Hecker is the best impressionist musician in the 21st century.

Ambient music is almost by definition impressionistic, not in the sense that music theorists talk about Debussy and Ravel’s uses of extended tonal concepts – ambient music owes more, structurally, to minimalists like Erik Satie and Arvo Pärt – but in the sense that all impressionist artists, musical or otherwise, took images and gave them general form rather than defined detail. Ambient music’s stereotypical haziness derives from the impressionist tradition.

Most ambient artists use impressionism as an excuse to meander about for ten minutes, calling it a rumination on the tides. Hecker, on the other hand, chooses definite imagery to play with, and gives those images a warped, definite form through his music, much as Debussy did in “La Cathédrale Engloutie.”

2009’s An Imaginary Country gave a panoramic view of something massive, a country no doubt inspired by his native Canada, and succeeded in conveying not only a general portrait of the country in Hecker’s mind, but also areas of the country in each of the tracks.

Despite Hecker’s previous high, powerful concepts, Ravedeath, 1972 is his most monolithic, impressionistically successful album yet, an album that uses Hecker’s typical expansive sound and applies it to provocative imagery. The cover and the first song of the album reference the annual “piano drop” at MIT, where students take a piano and drop it off of a roof – destroying something beautiful. Hecker, clearly inspired by this, deconstructs the sounds of him playing an organ in Reykjavik and uses it as the primary source material for his music.

Most of Hecker’s work, though, is done in the post-production phase. On top of Hecker’s omnipresent organ are layers upon layers of white noise, filters, feedback, and synths. To put it in a more visual perspective, the organ is Hecker’s object on the table, but his post-production layers are his paintbrush and paper, his tools to construct the image. The rumbling, distorted bass in “The Piano Drop” pull the synthesized organ down like gravity pulling on the piano as it tumbles from the roof. The rushing waves of white noise and distortion do their best to outshine the frankly beautiful music underpinning the “Hatred of Music” suite. Hecker imbues the suite with a sense of anger and urgency, two emotions rarely tapped by ambient composers, and Hecker succeeds, no doubt assisted by his mixer and contemporary Ben Frost.

While Ravedeath, 1972 does not finish with some defining concept like An Imaginary Country, the album definitely conveys an image. Hecker says that, more generally, he was inspired by “digital trash”, and Ravedeath, 1972 certainly piles on layers like a landfill, a repository of all of Hecker’s frustrations and victories. The stagnation of “Analog Paralysis, 1978” is tragic; the lightness of “In the Air” is refreshing.

Hecker’s amalgamation of layers and images compiles to form a twisted meta-statement on the destruction of beauty. Each of Hecker’s layers are shards, something incomplete, but with just enough shards, a fragmented, disturbed image is formed, and that is the result of Ravedeath, 1972.



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user ratings (410)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Eno (3)
Over and under-worded; Hecker says too much, but could've said more....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Athom
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2011


17213 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is such a good album.

Digging: Inigo Kennedy - Vaudeville

kanecooper
February 21st 2011


630 Comments


album is so good

lobby
February 21st 2011


1251 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wasn't this about the death of music, hence the piano drop?

conradtao
Emeritus
February 21st 2011


2090 Comments


wowowowowowowowowowoaskdjfd this album is so good

Photon
February 21st 2011


1292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah this is like a 4.5 for me now soo good

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
February 21st 2011


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

In The Air: I, II, & III blew my mind the first time.

AlexTM510
February 21st 2011


1401 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Must get, nice review

Bitchfork
February 21st 2011


7584 Comments


I would never call this impressionist, just ambient noise, plain and simple. Nothing out there in the slightest to garner the impressionist title.

FlawedPerfection
Emeritus
February 21st 2011


2806 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I hope you don't think I'm calling the music tonally impressionist because lol reading

Bitchfork
February 22nd 2011


7584 Comments


Your review is like "oh look it's cinematic and in order to establish some sort of contextual fluff I'll draw a connection to impressionism that isn't remotely unique to Hecker or ambient."
And then you try to go further from this whole by saying that he's better at doing this than most ambient artists, which would be a fine point to make if you didn't drop lines like: "Most ambient artists use impressionism as an excuse to meander about for ten minutes, calling it a rumination on the tides. Hecker, on the other hand, chooses definite imagery to play with, and gives those images a warped, definite form through his music, much as Debussy did in “La Cathédrale Engloutie.”" and "Hecker imbues the suite with a sense of anger and urgency, two emotions rarely tapped by ambient composers, and Hecker succeeds, no doubt assisted by his mixer and contemporary Ben Frost." which are by no means true.

Basically it seems like you wanted to say that it's cinematic, which is fine, but then you make all these connections that aren't there and support these falsehoods with ignorant falsehoods and then bring it all together in some paragraphs that don't really flow together. Like, you're obsessing to bring it all together with a unifying theme even though it's threadbare, so much so that you forget a few foundations of writing an informational opinion piece.

8v|



br3ad_man
Emeritus
February 22nd 2011


2125 Comments


...aaaaaanyway. This album is amazing. My favourite of his records so far. Good review, man. I didn't realise Ben Frost was involved, but it makes a lot of sense.

Bitchfork
February 22nd 2011


7584 Comments


"To put it in a more visual perspective, the organ is Hecker’s object on the table, but his post-production layers are his paintbrush and paper, his tools to construct the image."
and that whole section should be omitted because it's really redundant.

cbmartinez
February 22nd 2011


2525 Comments


about to listen to this for the first time, so excited, harmony in ultra is my favorite ambient album of all time and I absolutely adore hecker so I'm interested to see how this holds up

Bitchfork
February 22nd 2011


7584 Comments


Harmony is just as good in my opinion; check out JLIAT's Nature of Nature afterwards.

robin
Emeritus
February 22nd 2011


4248 Comments


love this, love hecker.

Tyrael
February 22nd 2011


20879 Comments


This is pretty cool, the review is pretty cool too.

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anotherdeadjuliet
February 22nd 2011


263 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This is such a good album. [2]

DBlitz
February 22nd 2011


1690 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

album rules

Ponton
Emeritus
February 22nd 2011


5793 Comments


definitely

Comatorium.
February 22nd 2011


4117 Comments


review is good, i might check this out. i love how everyone just ignores bitch at this point.

Digging: Silverstein - This is How the Wind Shifts: Addendum



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