Tim Hecker @ Audio, Brighton 16.11.14

Enigmatic sound artist on peak live form touring last year's acclaimed Virgins LP

Nov 16th, 2014 at Audio, Brighton / By Norman Miller
Tim Hecker @ Audio, Brighton 16.11.14 Over from his Montreal base for a welcome UK tour, we don't so much see Tim Hecker as sense him in a smoke-filled Audio in almost complete darkness. The 45-minute set, played as a continuous flow, works perfectly in the setting, as having Hecker (and everything else) as a hazy shadow seems to connect the music more directly. It's as much sensual experience as sound - literally at various points, when bass notes resonate through your body.

The set takes its mood cues from releases like Ravedeath, 1972 (2011) and last year's Virgins, rhythm and melody percolating through dense slabs of often distorted audio that get you digging into a rag-bag of similes to try and describe a spectrum of sound that often hints at other things carefully mashed up then lovingly reassembled.

One early section suggests Bladerunner-era Vangelis cut into jagged pieces then set glittering in dark musical gauze, while another seems to channel Michael Hoenig's 1978 classic Departure From the Northern Wastelands. Elsewhere, flares of sound merge with noises like slowed-down motorik, while another section comes over like a Hendrix guitar solo crushed inside a hurdy gurdy!

There are nods throughout to Hecker's way with melody, as showcased on the likes of 2011's gorgeously melancholic Dropped Pianos – such as a final section like a slowly crushed clavichord that makes beautiful splintered sounds as it goes.

Hecker's love of churchy stuff comes through too, with one sequence colouring dark drone and squalling feedback with slow bell peals. A lovely final section sounds like heartbeats mixed with strange sonar, merging into waves of vibration that ripple through the room like the blast from deep sonic depth charges. Truly different, truly exhilarating.