Sailing the seas of splendour comes ‘Love Streams, Tim Hecker’s follow-up to his 2013 ambient masterclass, ‘Virgins’. The project sees Hecker find himself an innocent-yet-fierce balance of pure electronic sound-poetry, simplistic obedience, and some world-like instrumentation.
That simplistic obedience rings true on the opening track ‘Obsidian Counterpoint’. The piece has brilliant, unreal production, and an amazing batch of sounds that both clash and compliment; buzzing, clicks, flutes and unexpected accessibility. If there’s a Tim Hecker album that one would believe to be recommendable to anyone, it’s this one.
Still, ‘Love Streams’ is all about soundscapes, musical visions and pathways of raindrop resonance. Tracks like ‘Music of the Air’ and ‘Bijie Dream’ seem to be more inclined to keep up the experimental side of things, with both tracks – particularly the latter – shrugging away any real songwriting or structure and instead focussing on atmosphere – and that’s a good thing. The atmospheres created on this album are breath taking, charming and very intelligent.
It looks like Hecker had every intention of making this album feel like a journey, with tracks grouped together in ways that tell a wordless story. The story gets climactic with later tracks like ‘Castrati Stack’ and ‘Voice Crack’. They’re both real, noisy moments of confrontation, with rich, crackly loudness. This continues onto ‘Collapse Sonata’, but loudness is substituted for rhythm, a rhythm that transcends its way into the album’s conclusion, ‘Black Phase’. This track takes everything that makes the earlier parts of ‘Love Streams’ special; it’s both adventurous and coherent.
The lesser tracks are the ones that simply say “this is electronic, that’s all”. Some of these pieces, like ‘Live Leak Instrumental’ still have a good sense of purpose; they’re not overbearing, nor are they unnecessary, but they’re simply ‘there’ in comparison to some of the lovelier, more important pieces. Still, much like a pair of baggy trousers, these tracks are easy to slip into.
For the most part, Tim Hecker has managed to piece together a classy, meaningful album. The title is encapsulated well by the music, as it flows through streams of colour and grandeur. When you listen to it, you know you’ve listened to an artist, you’ve listened to a painter, a sculptor, a man that has thrown his thought process into a blank notebook, and turned it into an abstract exhibition.
‘Love Streams’ is a banquet, every little attention to detail has its purpose, every passage flows and flutters brilliantly. It might be Tim Hecker’s best work – a real goddess of an album.
‘Love Streams’ is out now via 4AD.
This Tim Hecker Review was written by Ben Malkin, a GIGsoup contibutor. Edited by Stephen Butchard.