Review Summary: Tim Hecker breaks away from his previous marker in Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again and uses states of progression and regression to create warm sensations within Radio Amor.
Hecker's reputation in the present is a dissonant, dark, and sometimes cold ambient figure since the release of Mirages
in 2004. His debut album Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again
had a segmented, almost section by section approach within the album. Although the movement of his debut stagnated at points, it still showed immense potential within the structure of key songs. In 2003, Hecker released his sophomore effort Radio Amor
, changing his previous arrangements in Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again
with a more inter-connected foundation with only one track under 4 minutes, Radio Amor
seems rich within its confines of its abundantly layered electronic ambiance.
The use of musical pitches and hisses within Hecker's song compositions is what makes him so alluring. While this isn't anything new, his use of key components within Radio Amor
allows him to trump his previous efforts in Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again
. Previously the gritty and randomized hisses felt something of a rejection within the construct of the song, but now these disowned irregular notes are enveloped within the piano keys that echo.
And these are the keys of Radio Amor
- the keys of a piano. While minimalistic and repetitive, this approach fills the vacancy of the hiss and static nothingness within songs like "Songs of the Highwire Shrimper" and "7000 Miles" to obtain some heft and weight within itself. Despite its rhythmic feel, its minimalistic character adds a lot within the empty minutes some songs seem to have. Fortunately the piano isn't ever present within the entirety of Radio Amor
, allowing his darkly tones and the fascinating, yet odd warmth taking precedence over the first track on "(They Call Me) Jimmy". The loopy and meditative two tones that move from low to sharp incorporates itself within the background voices and static nothingness is a satisfying break from Hecker's so-called silence (I'm speaking of the interplay between the static, dim whispers, and hiss that take over) allowing it to break through this wall, it captures the ear whenever it enters the track.
On the surface most of these songs seem a bit stagnate, if not consistent, but unseen previously is his use of building the whispers in an entirely different animal. Seemingly shifting from one-key or one-chord structures into calming waters of ambiance. By building upon this very minimal approach each song stands up on its own by adding rare chords or piano keys that sit atop the not-so random glitches and calming buzz. "I'm Transmitting Tonight" follows this, but in a backwards fashion. Starting from piano keys it slowly drops into the patented backdrops of silence.
feels connected for the main reason that Hecker chooses to skillfully employ his almost radio-transmitted pitch within all of these songs, as if something is always beckoning within the shadows. Quietly and almost unaware is it in "7000 Miles", but beyond the static oceanic waves that feel like they're washing over are the messages, the voices, but by songs end the buildup almost completely masks them into oblivion, only later to wash away its layers to show they're still there. Much like "7000 Miles", "Azure Azure" uses waves of static, but adds a 10 minute long expansion of glitches and lowly tones to broken chords that come in then drop immediately creating a sound that wants to break open. Halfway into the song its sound is in a state of regression only to be built up a barrier of noise to drop into more radio-transmitted voices.
Clearly Radio Amor
is an understood album. It knows what it's doing, its aim, which is why it gets better on continued listens. Hecker translates his past work into a rhythmic, static warmth that welds itself into piano keys and single or two-tone movements allowing each buildup to be memorable. The glitchiness is still here as it was in Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again
, but it is far more suppressed, if not intertwined within the album's foundation. For something that should feel so cold and inattentive it warms itself frequently because there is no void of silence or emptiness to hear.