Review Summary: Over and under-worded; Hecker says too much, but could've said more.
Tim Hecker has always epitomized everything I adore about ambient music. His dense compositions have always seemed to be shaped from the unknown, yet melded into something emotionally effective and musically huge. His textural, heavily glitch-influenced works have always been simultaneously stimulative and bemusing, generating a profound effect on me that I could never quite define. That had perhaps always been what his work was about, manipulating harsh noises and wavering synth layers to form something barely recognizable, yet meaningful to the listener. That profound sense of unsure feelings only accentuated what human elements were trigged by his music.
So it's rather hard to pinpoint what Ravedeath, 1972
lacks. It's a huge record, a smorgasbord of glitchy, somber build-ups and intense melodic collages. Expanding on themes from Harmony in Ultraviolet
is divided into multiple movements and individual transitioning tracks. The entire 52 minutes of this LP incorporates the many facets of his music often within the same song, throwing a range of mournful textures and hard-hitting electronics in and out of the mix. While order is brought by the uniformity in the movements, the songs seem to build with confidence, yet convey little in the process. In past albums, he had successfully transformed unfamiliar sounds into something personable, may it be the reoccurring sporadic electronics of his debut, or the consistent hypnosis triggered by the phased out synth swells of Harmony In Ultraviolet
. These albums were long-winded, self-indulgent in the themes they explored, but the themes were explored with this child-like sense of infatuation that the tracks seemed shorter and meant a lot more than the noise on the forefront. Ravedeath, 1972
packs a harder punch than any of his albums yet, but in all the intense imagery and soundscapes it generates, Hecker's work here seems to share little with the listener.
Yet I stumble over the record again; there's a method to Ravedeath
's madness and it's perhaps too revealing. Each designated movement/portion of the album feels it's constantly building, drudgingly adding layer upon texture, cinematically rising; but there's no definitive climax. The record constantly searches for something bigger, eventually settling for literally nothing. The staggering heights of distortion Hecker reaches on tracks like "In the Air II" are incredible, but these sparse moments feel distant and unrevealed, built in a direction shadowed by reverb and overdone atmospherics. Hecker never basks in climactic shoegaze glory, only presenting glimpses of what would be a brilliant peak, in fragments. The constant building motion of each track feels like mere cinema in contrast to Hecker's past works that would drown the listener in ambience, only to pull them back up and recall how brilliant the air is.
In the end, the most enticing moments of Ravedeath
are the outros to every song/movement. The fading away of his compositions, the crackles and synth layers gentling concluding each track add worth and even an endearing factor to the huge trek that the album is. The dying horns and quirky guitar glitches that conclude "Analog Parlysis, 1978" might just be Hecker's best work yet. Such moments of shimmering beauty and subtle finality provide a foil unfortunately not big enough to counter the onslaught of crescendos and soundscaping that Ravedeath, 1972
lumps upon me.