Tim Hecker – Harmony in Ultraviolet

Tim Hecker
Harmony in Ultraviolet

Tim Hecker has been busy the last few years carving out a space for himself on the same plane occupied by other electro-acoustic artists such as Christian Fennesz, Oren Ambarchi, and Keith Fullerton Whitman. While there are obvious differences in the craft of each artist, they all share a common interest in process-based music. His latest record, Harmony in Ultraviolet, exists at a bizarre nexus in the universe where ambience and noise aren’t contradictory terms. Comprised of equal parts distorted fireworks and near silence, the record is a subtly melodic masterwork.

Alternating between blankets of suffocating pressure and echoing emptiness has been Hecker’s calling card for at least a couple of LPs now, but nowhere has he done it as immaculately as on Harmony in Ultraviolet. The record begins with billowy clouds of white noise trailing off into the ether on “Rainbow Blood.” Hecker flirts with repeating harmonic figures on tracks like “Chimeras” and “Radio Spiricom” only to turn around and blast listeners with decibel shredding radio static on others such as on the two-part “Whitecaps of White Noise.”

Like most of Hecker’s work, Harmony in Ultraviolet is best consumed as a whole. The record flows perfectly from track to track, often making it nearly impossible to tell where one ends and another begins. It would be difficult for first time listeners to note much difference between this record and even 2001’s Haunt Me, Haunt Me, Do It Again. The distinction really lies in the details. Careful comparison reveals a slow but steady arc from that record’s shorter ambient, repetitive work to the longer, noisier, obtuse compositions of 2003’s Mirages. Here he reconciles these competing interests into what may become the single defining moment of his recorded output.