Managing to remain tonally sparse and minimalistic, the eleven compositions featured on Hecker’s sixth album elevate beyond mere musical sketchbook. While his sound stays indelibly tethered to his gorgeous sense of melody, a fetish for discordant progression and a mastery of piano, on Ravedeath, 1972 Hecker goes for greater conceptual flair and a far deeper explorations of the artist’s core themes of bleakness and sorrow. This may pin the album down as “depressing” but all one needs to listen to is the coda track, “In The Air III” to know that is far too easy. On this record, Hecker evokes a genuine sense of solitude, a far flung idea in a distracted, multi-media universe.
Recorded in Frikirkjan Church in Reykjavik, Iceland the wildly popular production location offers more than name recognition (I’ll admit, I want to bring my fiction author road show up that way). The album’s funeral motif provides a tangible influence on the overall feel. The opening song, “The Piano Drop” with its shivering synthesizer sequences and dreamy tempo evokes still shots of an otherworldly, treeless expanses of black sand and volcanic landscapes.
Picture a lonely fiction author laying under the Auroras. Touch twelve inches of white snow that is still pure. Envision his fixed gaze looking up. Feel his breath stolen away.
Hecker breaks his songs into sequences. The three parts of “In The Fog” are constructed around a drab ambient tone, shot through in spaces with shrill guitars which are then calmed by sublime piano melodies. On “Hatred of Music” Hecker goes a little colder with sparse key drops and a satisfyingly awkward crescendo in the midst. Throughout the closing triptych (his “Into The Air” sequence) an elevated feeling of moving through atmosphere courses through the body.
Hecker’s objective going into Ravedeath, 1972 was to run the fine line between live/studio album. He wanted to seize on music that projected both boldness and vulnerability in the same moment. He sought an album of anti-music and in only the most curious ways, he achieved those lofty goals.
Here is a link to Ravedeath, 1972 in its entirety on YouTube.
Are you a fiction author with a favorite album to listen to while writing? Have you given Tim Hecker’s Ravedeath 1972 album a listen? What do you think?
Leave a comment below with your thoughts and I’ll cover it in the next Music For Writers column. While you’re at it, check out my book page to see the latest Oregon mystery working on.