[sic] Magazine

Tim Hecker – Love Streams

His first release for 4AD, Love Streams is Tim Hecker’s eighth, increasingly high profile LP. Drawing from his deep background in urban noise, abstract ambient and drone, it again welcomes contribution from experimental composer Kara-Lis Coverdale, as well as from Grímur Helgason, the same collaborators who worked with Hecker on 2013’s similar Virgins. Featuring also the sliced and diced 15th century re-scoring of the blissful Icelandic Choir Ensemble, however, and reputedly the product of Hecker’s thoughts on the “transcendental voice in the age of auto-tune”, Love Streams gives a literal voice to the human arrangement of his compositions. Its relationship with Hecker’s array of technology is uneasy and this disquieting abrasion, a frostily married couple, gives Love Streams and its running order the direction it requires. Though paranoid in places, it nevertheless paints a generally optimistic view of a near future in which both can play their part, Hecker’s inhuman distortion equally given voice to surge to shouting peaks, reverberating space often saying even more.

Creating something largely peaceful out of technological and temporal chaos, Love Streams is intelligent, bite-size modern composition. Relatively speaking it’s also not particularly experimental and it’s eminently listenable as a result, engaging both the head and the heart. Occasionally it’s more like art than traditional music, though. There’s an installation quality to “Violet Monumental I”, for example, which plays like the echoes of a gallery opening, barely-there organ drones amassing eventually to menacing drown out the chatter. This and palate cleansers built on electric interference invite highbrow interpretation, but there may simply be little to find. This is because Love Streams conjures images instead of words, its lack of intelligible lyrics a stylistic choice to ensure no misplaced meaning.

Continuing Virgins’ deployment of soothing woodwind, a sub-plot of organic parp and flutter balances the album’s skittering pulse of electronics, stumbling percussion tempered with dreamy synths, organ and the ear-filling hiss of ambient space. Much of Love Streams seems to happen at the edge of earshot as a consequence, micro-details firing off like synapses from a main branch of thought. The second half of “Violet Monumental” is striking then for its technicolour clarity, a crumpled beat and rich stereo-scanning dither inviting you to dive deeper than your lungs can cope with. The louder it plays the more irresistible the allure, “Black Phase” too pulling like an undertow, creaking like a Ben Frost timber-frame, choral stabs piercing the mood where one might more readily expect piano.

Love Streams doesn’t feel as lonely as Virgins. And it’s infinitely more approachable than Ravedeath, 1972. There’s an argument it could even be representative of a new type of truly neo-classical, a fusion of the centuries old with the digital corruption of today. Whether or not it wants the attention in any case, Love Streams is the sound of Hecker opening up his world for greater inspection. Though it often seems the size of a parallel universe, you’re left with the impression you’ll have to do most of looking with a microscope.

Best track: “Castrati Stack”

~Love Streams is released April 8th via 4AD.~