Tim Hecker: Konoyo (Kranky) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Tim Hecker



Oct 04, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Konoyo in Japanese means “the world over here” and on his ninth studio album straddling the borders of the indescribable, Tim Hecker issues an open invitation to it. It’s hard to find words for this broad-shouldered effort, which speaks well of its composition, all ornate and dulled at the same time.

One can attempt to construct an academic link from Hecker’s stylistic maneuvers to a time of progressive ambient minimalism belonging to the adventurous composers of the late 20th century but the Montreal composer has ascended farther into depths, through disturbance and into his own realm. I promise you this, if you’re looking for places habitable for your subconscious, Konoyo allows passage. There’s always been a discordance to Hecker’s creations, which can advance relentlessly, putting you in a defensive stance and having to fend through the storm, but this small collection of patiently texturized canvasses is more about allowance than resistance.

The form here is what’s most immersive. The sound elements themselves are almost secondary to the ways they are laid down and arranged. “Bending” and “burnishing” have been apt verbs chosen to describe Hecker’s manipulaton of his medium and it is perhaps useful to think of him as an metallurgist of particulate matter. Ghostly rinses layer to form unknown density. Echoes trail off, hide, and return like the recollection of what you were hearing in a memory you are trying to recreate.

How this form of intimation is achieved might not be a completely answerable question for the composer who has reached a sort of hovering plateau where his recordings are instantly identifiable as his own, but the essence of Konoyo lies in its recording during several trips to Japan, in a temple on the outskirts of Tokyo. There Hecker collaborated with members of the gagaku ensemble Tokyo Gakuso, musicians of a style of Japanese classical music performed at the Imperial Court in Kyoto for centuries, playing traditional instruments including shō, ryuteki, and hichiriki. The collaborative direction is a continuation Hecker’s search for nuanced transmission of his language, most recently explored with choral embellishment from The Icelandic Choir Ensemble on 2016’s Love Streams. Here again, the chemistry is of fluid compatibility.

Foreboding tones settling into like dimensions have been a constant of Tim Hecker’s mysterious designs and that holds true again here. The beginning of “Keyed Out” lets you in on the uncertain instrument tuning of a found object orchestra. You almost can’t bear to hear the scratching of points across sheet metals, and it’s as if the idea of pain directly before pleasure is being exercised when it all disintegrates into “orbish” tranquility. Later on, “In Mother Earth Phase” is a masterful Symphonie Fantastique, unveiling its magnificence in individually captivating stanzas with IV drip graduality.

At the end of the fifteen-and-a-half-minute album finale “Across to Anoyo,” that is quite literally a demonstration of Hecker in the process of expanding the boundairespushing and probing into the shimmeryou are submissive to the point of tears. It’s no doubt a cathartic reaction to the aggregation and inversion of tension and existential tremor that had occured over the preceding hour.

That you may find yourself frozen in a listening state is evidence of Hecker’s genius and there’s always something more profound about finding yourself in that state unwittingly. He reaches for and finds spaces on shelves in a cupboard behind a wall separating you from a dimension you didn’t know existed. Konoyo represents his farthest reach. (www.sunblind.net)

Author rating: 8.5/10

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