record review: Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972 (Kranky)

Swathes and swathes of sound. Foreground and background, noise bleeds, breathes, diffuses, blisters and fades. A piano drops, allegedly, but nothing physical can have any effect in such an ethereal environment. Evocative, never provocative.

It is the array of sonic texture that brings out such a range of feeling. Organ keys punctuate endless waves of nothing, waves that begin to collide and crash upon one another. Mist builds, clouds form, the image of tranquility grows tense. The boat begins to stray from its previously defined path, and seeks guidance from elements that no individual can control or alter. A solitary piercing note is the lighthouse, the beacon of light, calling upon its conscience to remember its true course. The atmosphere closes. Into the fog.

Music, as an art form, irrelevant and discarded. Chords are distilled to foghorns, tuneless, shapeless, but meaningless? Far from it – at the moment. We have arguably reached a point in musical history where nothing is original, nothing is innovative, and stylistic advances are only recycled methods from a bygone time. We place a ‘post-‘ in front of a genre in order to give it the stamp of novelty, but for how much longer can recontextualising the attitudes and themes of an existing oeuvre be interesting? At what point does this approach become stagnant and uninteresting? Perhaps assaulting our understanding of the term ‘music’ with violent waves of noise is the last strategy we can employ to uncover new avenues of creativity.

There is no real finale, or conclusion of sorts. All things are finite, even works of art, if this can be defined as one. The audience does not rise, as they have no arms to clap with, and there is no orchestra to applaud anyway. What are they even watching? Instead, the composition breathes a final breath, unknowing that it is merely seconds from its own passing. The breath is like many others before it, the same in one sense, but completely unique in another. It does not gasp or clamour for air, but gracefully draws itself up to its full height, and releases. Like any good set of lungs would have done.

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