Tim Hecker: No Highs Album Review

Tim Hecker: No Highs Album Review

Ambient songs is in crisis. Passive listening is no extended an different or fringe concept but the model on which the complete streaming sector is built. YouTube radio stations promise several hours of chilled-out, obstacle-totally free audio, and albums on Spotify fade into unlimited loops of seem-alikes. How to preserve the custom of thoughtfully produced ambient tunes in a industry inundated with company-pleasant fluff, or to influence listeners of the great importance of creative vision when an AI application can churn out a flawlessly very good drone? On No Highs, a self-described “beacon of unease versus the deluge of wrong positive corporate ambient,” Tim Hecker gives his reply. 

A cross-legged person meditating with dollar signs around their head

Inside the Ambient Songs Streaming Increase

The Canadian musician’s 1st album in 4 decades is not a grouchy get-off-my-garden statement, nor is it an abrasive viewers-thinner like Vladislav Delay’s Rakka. In actuality, it’s considerably less confrontational than a ton of Hecker’s albums, even types that never look meant to be tough, like his new experiments in Japanese gagaku music Konoyo and Anoyo. What No Highs argues for as an alternative is the worth of a wizard at the rear of the curtain. The album is strongest when it helps make you knowledgeable of the artist’s invisible presence, standing driving the scenes and summoning thunder and lightning at will, enjoying the viewers like the director of a excellent thriller.

The most fulfilling passage will come significantly less than two and a 50 percent minutes in. “Monotony” begins with 1 of the lots of Morse code-like, single-take note sequencer designs we’ll listen to throughout. Atop that, Hecker creates a wilderness of sirens and street sweepers that start to gradual and morph into grand slight chords. Then—here is the moment—Hecker introduces the magisterial growl of a church organ, blowing the track’s lower end broad open up with vivid color and large drama. It is a sound he’s employed quite a few instances about, and it arrives throughout right here as a individual stamp, like Shinichi Atobe’s echoing piano or GAS’s kick drum. It’s his way of declaring, You are listening to a Tim Hecker album, a reminder that this things couldn’t be designed by just everyone.

No Highs can be bodily discomforting to listen to, not mainly because it’s notably noisy or dissonant but for the reason that it appears to be to consciously resist syncing with the bodily rhythms of the listener. “In Your Mind” introduces a throbbing sequencer sample in its initial number of seconds, but Hecker keeps slowing it down and speeding it up, fading it in out, protecting against the mind from acquiring a foothold. Saxophonist Colin Stetson seems all through the album, exhibiting his usual burly, physical tactic to his instrument. As he commences his countless runs on “Monotony II,” the clack of his keys crystal clear as day, the listener may well truly discover themselves contracting their lungs in sympathy with his gobstopping breath control. This tunes is not heading to align with your chakras.