Canadian electronic composer Tim Hecker’s 2006 blizzard symphony Harmony In Ultraviolet is one of my favorite albums of its kind, its escalating mix of submerged synths, radio static, living/breathing ambiance, and frozen noise feels naturally occurring rather than composed. More recently he released 2009’s An Imaginary Country and wrote the music for Destroyer’s “Archer On The Beach.” Hecker recorded this new, excellently titled sixth full-length Ravedeath, 1972 in a church in Reykjavik using a pipe organ as the main sound source (plus computer, synthesizer, piano, and mic and guitar amp feedback). On paper, the mostly live piece brings to mind Jóhann Jóhannsson’s epic 2004 snow glide, Virðulegu Forsetar, which was also captured in a church in that same Icelandic city. Looking beyond the “sacredness” of the site of its birth, Jóhannsson referenced entropy, Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, heat, space, energy, Nietszche, Moebius strips, and small birds. Here we’re told it’s “in parts a document of air circulating within a wooden room, and also a pagan work of physical resonance within a space once reserved for the hallowed breath of the divine.” As the album title and songs like “Hatred Of Music,” “Studio Suicide, 1980,” “Analog Paralysis, 1978,” and “Piano Drop” (look closely at the cover art) suggest, it’s “also partly an attempt to confront a pervasive negativity surrounding music … Historical rituals of destroying pianos, mountains of pirated CDRs pushed by bulldozers in Eastern Europe, or the melancholy of the digital music era.” The music was recorded mostly during one day in July with the assistance of Ben Frost, whose surname again seems perfect. James Plotkin mastered it. Get a sense of its 52 minutes with “Hatred Of Music I.” (If you’re in New York, it works perfectly with what’s going on outside your window.)
Ravedeath, 1972 is out 2/14 via Kranky.