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Tim Hecker: Ravedeath, 1972 (Kranky)

Ambient noisehead Tim Hecker returns with another stunning full-length of hazy, gloomy atmospheres. His sixth album is nothing especially surprising given his past repertoire, numerous albums of what can perhaps best be described as ambient noise — layers of drones, feedback and dense effects that amount to a rather soothing if occasionally numbing result. The main sound source for most of the album appears to be a traditional pipe organ; that the album was recorded mostly in a single day in a church would support the likelihood. But Hecker is a master at obscuring his source material, usually under cascading layers of effects and surface noise. At best what the listener is usually left with is an impression or a blurry rendering of the original material. From the opening rush of sound that starts “The Piano Drop,” much of Ravedeath is an intense and dense journey through the proverbial fog, all synth tremolo, sub bass and distortion. Still, there are many instances on Ravedeath where the organ rises to the fore, despite all of the other sonic goings-on. Like most of Hecker’s output, there are suites of tracks that fall in sequence, such as the three-part “In The Fog” which lives up to its name. Herein, though, distinct references to piano and organ creep to the surface that provide a keen sense of balance, something familiar amidst the otherwise disorienting swirl of sound. The fact that Ravedeath is often quite dense is not to say that there are not dynamics; the appropriately named “No Drums” is a breather in the middle of the album, and the “In The Air” suite has its moments of open space, where the noise recedes just enough to let the spaces between resonate a bit more. And like it starts, when the album comes to a close, it doesn’t so much resolve as recede from view, like a tide.

Watch/listen: In The Fog

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