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TIM HECKER – Harmony in Ultraviolet (Kranky)

Posted: October 27th, 2006, by Graeme Williams

I once had a Wagon Christ EP that had a song called “Pretty Crap” on it. The title was not a joke: the song was lovely with lush pads and beats and what not, but despite the self-awareness, it was rather shit. The same can be said for a lot of ambient electronic music. The genre brings to mind images of ravers, MDMA, “chill out rooms”, and pleasant but entirely vacuous aural wallpaper made from Korg presets. Not my scene.

Enter Tim Hecker’s new album, Harmony in Ultraviolet. Tim Hecker (not to be confused with the Mego artist Hecker) is a Canadian electronic musician doing things with guitars and computers that inevitably draws comparisons to Christian Fennesz, even though the two of them are exploring very different aesthetics. Tim Hecker, from his deconstruction of Van Halen in My Love Is Rotten To The Core to the “ambient death metal” of 2004’s Mirages, to his shows and tours with Isis, is working far more at the very outer limits of rock. And I do mean the very outer limits. There are the last vestiges of rock music here, with heavily distorted and computer processed guitar riffing throughout, and occasional bits of percussion buried deep in the mix. This is rock music in the same way that Earth or Sunn0))) are rock music. And yet, with its glitches, clicks, organ drones, and gentle melodies giving a pleasant sense of drift, the album can quite easily be situated in the much-maligned ambient genre. It’s really pretty, yet the fields of static, distortion and sub bass rumble that Hecker’s sonic structures are built on save it from being insipid. I could throw out more comparisons, such as how “Chimeras” brings to mind Philip Glass’s Koyaanitqatsi soundtrack or that “Dungeoneering” seems to take Steve Reich as an influence, but this misses how unique Harmony In Ultraviolet sounds. There’s a staggering amount of influences here, but it all blends and flows together seamlessly.

I give this my highest possible recommendation.

Tim Hecker
Kranky



Graeme Williams

Graeme is one of the infamous Bearded Grim Lords of Canadia, currently banished to Glasgow for his part in the Metal War of 2003 which crushed the souls of over 7 million whiny emo boys. Along with DESCRIPTOR, a 20ft robot of destruction and a bicycle built entirely out of rage and oil, Graeme is already plotting the death of your favourite indie band. Beware.

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