Review Summary: A bundle of mere sketches that stand tall next to every other ambient release this year.
About eight months ago, Tim Hecker dropped this year’s finest ambient offering, with all other artist falling just short of its excellence. It was dynamic, ethereal, and featured some of the boldest and moodiest recordings of his career. Ravedeath, 1972
was a marvel; a challenging and exciting creation that even in its most ugly moments still sounded lush and beautiful. Yet the pieces featured on the album were not immaculate burst of spontaneous creativity, but rather, the product of a meticulously planned process. This is evident by Hecker’s ‘rough sketches’—small pieces of music that were the result said process. These ‘demos,’ if you will, have been collected and put onto an EP entitled Dropped Pianos
, and are surprisingly different from those found on Ravedeath, 1972
It appears Hecker was not finished in monopolizing 2011 ambient, as Dropped Pianos
is a shockingly solid work that separates itself from its bolder, more refined cousin. As the name implies, Hecker heavily utilizes the piano here. Chords ring hollow against a reverb-less backdrop, making the entire record unexpectedly somber. It’s still decidedly ambient, but many of the tracks feel far less lush as the timbre is scaled way down. As a result, the record is very eerie, cold, and reserved. It’s very beautiful with the piano creating very captivating melodies, but the entire work is steeped in melancholy, rivaling even the most frigid and complex of tracks on Ravedeath, 1972
is indeed a different kind of beast, but it still has that Tim Hecker excellence. The familiar song crafting is there, seeping through each of the record’s nine tracks. The difference of tone in regards to Ravedeath, 1972
is welcome for most aspects, but not so much for others. What this EP lacks is the consistency found not only on Hecker’s most recent album, but those before it as well. It doesn’t have that perfect flow, with the style and production all over the place. However, it’s difficult to fault it too much, as these are merely outlines of bigger, grander pieces.
The ‘sketches’ found on Dropped Pianos
are better than many fully developed songs, and like it’s bigger relative, rivals just about every other ambient work this year. Despite being surprisingly different from Tim Hecker’s latest full-length, it is a fascinating and exhilarating piece of ambient music. While it does lack consistency, it’s still a wonderful recording that fans of Ravedeath, 1972
, and Hecker in general should pick up immediately.