Tim Hecker is a name I’ve heard quite a bit over the last three or four years. Ever since I fell into the musical wormhole that is Oneohtrix Point Never I’ve taken quite a bit more notice of electronic artists. Hecker’s Virgins was an album I’d jumped into and found interesting but it never quite took. I’d found the darker sounds of The Haxan Cloak to be more to my liking, though Hecker’s work meandered in my subconscious. On a post-Christmas suicide mission/shopping trip to the state capital we stopped at one of my favorite record stores, Luna Music, and I perused the soundtracks and their most impressive electronic collection. They didn’t have Virgins, but they did have Hecker’s 2016 release Love Streams. I snagged it and we were off for dinner.
Love Streams, from what I’ve read, is decidedly a shift in Hecker’s usual style. From what I remember of his previous work the sound was kind of glitchy with dreamy patches of sound and texture. It was reminiscent of Daniel Lopatin’s work, though maybe more ghostly. Love Streams is unlike anything I’ve heard. Hecker’s mix of real instrumentation with digital corruption gives the impression that you’re hearing something that is slowly disappearing into the ether. His use of voices on this record is eerie and beautiful all at once. He enlisted the help of Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson to arrange the choral parts(if you’re not familiar with Johannsson, check out his amazing score for Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival.) The voices elevate the work into this almost heavenly perch, if Heaven could be psychedelic and woozy.
“Obsidian Counterpoint” opens the album with a feeling of liquid rushing through some peculiar tunnel. The splashes of sound give off this impression of light coming from some unknown place. “Music Of The Air” is dreamy and beautiful. There’s a sense of mystery that encapsulates this song. Hecker seems to be working in some other realm. The voices seem detached, like spirits pushing through to the other side. The buzzing and drone have a lulling effect. It’s like the peace of letting go. “Bijie Dream” feels like a continuation of “Music Of The Air”, though the end of some sort of emotional resolution. “Live Leak Instrumental” opens quietly before sounding as if you’ve come across some other world. “Violet Monumental I &II” are these beautiful collages of space-y sound. They’re really rather hard to describe.
I listen to an album like Love Streams and I’m amazed at how easily they draw me into their worlds. You feel as if you can float around inside an album like this and always find something new you didn’t notice last time. I’m also amazed at the process by which these songs are created. It’s not your typical songwriting. Where does one begin to create a song like “Up Red Bull Creek” or “Castrati Stack”? I thought that quite a bit when I first heard records like Oneohtrix Point Never’s R Plus Seven and The Haxan Cloak’s Excavation; as well as earlier records like Terry Riley’s A Rainbow In Curved Air and Morton Subotnick’s Silver Apples Of The Moon. They seem at first to be these random noise occurrences that somehow make sense together. But after repeated listens they reveal a very intentional evolution of sound, space, and emotion. Yes, despite the lack of some sort of lyrical narrative to tell you where to go and what to feel, these albums are rich with an emotional drive. What does that say of me? That as I’ve gotten older I connect far more viscerally and emotionally with a record like Love Streams, as opposed to Rubber Soul or Yankee Hotel Foxtrot? I seem to be able to connect on a spiritual level with bleeps, blips, and swaths of dense synth more so than I do with the verse/chorus/verse scenario.
Maybe I’m a replicant.
Regardless, I’m just happy I can still connect to music in such a deep way. Whether it’s voices singing clearly “There are places I’ll remember/ All my life, though some have changed”, or if they’re detached and ghostly sounds digitally bathed, I’m feeling them and they’re moving me. Love Streams is operatic in scope and ethereal in sound. New age for androids. Do androids dream of electronic new age? I don’t know, but if they did and it existed it might sound like Love Streams.