Top Ten Of 2011 – Number 8. Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972

Canadian Tim Hecker is pretty much a master when it comes to creating atmosphere.   Drone based compositions that can, at times, be fearsome have propelled him to the top of his field along with the producer of this record Ben Frost.  Combining their undoubted talents on this record is a master stroke. Hecker has created a record that, yes, is full of fear but equally highlights his amazing understanding of melody with subtle and brilliant bursts filtering in throughout yet remaining part of the texture rather than a focal point of the tracks.

Fascinatingly, this record combines the organic process of recording pipe organ in a church hall in Reykjavik with the digital process of adding layers and texture once back in the studio.  The result is something all consuming, suffocating, claustrophobic.   A record that is equal in discord as it is in beauty and one that challenges the listener to dare to find time to breathe.  A record that batters the living hell out of the organ through digital processing.  And yet, at the end of it all, it’s the organ that sustains longest and has the final word on the record.

Herein lies the beauty of this record:  the concept behind the music.  It serves as an examination of how music is threatened by technology.   And the combination of the use of an organic organ and the digital noise of the studio highlight this perfectly.  One being pure and acoustic, the other processed, modern and, at times, aggressive.  It’s almost like Hecker was trying to batter the organ into submission using technology and yet, after all is said and done, the organ remains.  It’s certainly the work of an artist who understands and values traditional as much as he does contemporary.  And it’s brilliant.

You can check out Tim Hecker here.  Enjoy.

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