“These aren’t ambient pieces, but they are sloppier than I’ve been in the past, in the sense that I just let things go.” Tim Hecker’s ninth album is at least partially inspired by a suggestion from the late Johann Johannsson that he invite more negative space into his music, and those who’ve followed his last couple albums will notice this difference straight away. If 2016’s Love Streams was, well, a steady stream of sound, Konoyo (Japanese for ‘the world over here’) is a slow, intermittent trickle, changing colors and elusively slipping though your fingers. Hecker worked with a Japanese gagaku ensemble to conjure the old-world patchwork of bamboo flutes, strings, pipe horn and drums typically only heard in ancient imperial Japanese court music, which he deployed and manipulated in chorus with his own sounds and computer processes. But rather than recording the instruments and then retreating to his studio to deconstruct the results, Hecker engaged more closely with the source material than normal, cultivating themes and moods in a back-and-forth with the musicians. “There was very little advice or direction given. We started talking about things like, ‘This sounds like dark smoke clouds,’ and we would just riff on that for 15 minutes.” It’s easily his most evocative and devastating work to date, but like any other Hecker record (Heckord™) I still have no clue how it was made, even after reading the press release. With the subversion of age-old man versus machine tropes, deconstructed Eastern sound design, sparkling neon overtones and scorched undertones, I can’t help but think what this music would sound like over the new Blade Runner (or the old one!), especially the dreamlike “In mother earth phase” and tender ballad “Is a rose pedal of the dying crimson light.” The screeching dissonance of “This life,” high-tech emotional rollercoaster “Keyed Out” and foggy Midgar vibes of 15-minute coda “Across To Anoyo” are other highlights. Gatefold double vinyl pressing, recommended.
- double vinyl pressing
- housed in gatefold jacket
- poly inner sleeves
- music label: Kranky 2018
reviewed by tom violence 11/2018