Agitated Atmosphere: Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Tim Hecker.

This is likely not the first you’ve read as it concerns the work of Tim Hecker. A student of music and production, Hecker has transformed musical performance into a ritual that borrows from both academia and entertainment. His lush drones and calculating production techniques play to the sort of high brow crowd Hecker’s deeper messages most resonate and yet, there’s something so simple and majestic in all of his work that slapping it with the label ‘high brow’ does a great injustice to Hecker’s canon. He is truly an artist working in a medium that all can enjoy, it’s just a case of access.

Be prepared: Ravedeath, 1972, is the large, extravagant canvas that promises to bring Hecker an audience mixed with old and new; experimentalists and traditionalists; wide-eyed and clinch-fisted. This latest détente via Kranky makes peace with parties of contrast. Ravedeath, 1972 is largely the product of live pipe organ, played from a Reykjavik church. Yet Hecker displays his steady hand behind the boards (with assistance from the equally hot commodity, Ben Frost), producing an album that often augments and bastardizes his instrument of choice for a melody just as powerful as its base but far more gentle in its touch.

Listein to “The Piano Drop”:

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Much of Ravedeath, 1972 plays out Hecker’s duality. The album is a response to the negativity of music — more so the business and backhanding that accompanies it — even as Hecker embraces the healing powers of music and the greater good it generates for its intended audiences. Ravedeath, 1972 is a stirring string of ideas, exploring a wealth of emotions in a sedated, calming atmosphere. Moments of anger, sadness, and calm are folded into Hecker’s technical tricks. It’s a strange cyborg but one that, as it wraps its steely hand around our throats, is gently sobbing as it slowly loosens its grip. The heights of modern technology and ancient beauty will always be at odds but for one brief respite, Hecker joins the two into one.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist whose work can be viewed at his website. He also pens Deserted for the KEXP Blog. You may follow him on Twitter.

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