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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
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No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Tim Hecker
Harmony in Ultraviolet

Rating: 8.5/10 ?

February 2, 2007
Having struck such a fine formula with his three preceding albums, Tim Hecker would have been a brave man to turn a corner. Now slotting himself into the Kranky roster with aplomb, the Montreal laptop artist has followed up his sumptuous Mirages with a naturally progressive record, sounding fresh and refined without straying from the theme he's been reinforcing since he burst onto the electronic scene with 2001's Haunt Me Haunt Me, Do It Again.

Although each of his albums possesses its own idiosyncrasies, Hecker's personal touch is enough to let them convey a prevailing notion, allowing them to work together sequentially. Rather than merely picking up where Mirages left off, though, Harmony in Ultraviolet sees Hecker refining this common sound, whilst cranking up the levels a few notches to reach new levels of extremity.

Harmony in Ultraviolet is probably Hecker's noisiest album yet, but that's not to say it's not his most melody-ridden. In a similar fashion to fellow sound explorers Fennesz and Eluvium, he prefers to force the ears to work a bit harder to seek out his tunes, drenching them in gushes of white noise that act as blankets over the sources at the heart of the recording process. These sources tend to be guitars, strings, and there are glimpses of piano here and there, but what really elevates Harmony in Ultraviolet is its production.

There's not a moment of silence during the album's course, as each track has been expertly sown into one another. From the expansive opener "Rainbow Blood" into the dark, rumbling "Stags, Aircraft, Kings and Secretaries", two different scenes are set, but the flow from one to the other is perfect, and is continued from beginning to end. "Chimeras" is a little more subdued, based upon a structured series of reversed piano loops, before the metallic "Spring Heeled Jack Flies Tonight" surges into view, in which Hecker pushes his distortion boxes to the very limits of their capacities.

Despite all these mentions of noise and distortion, anyone who knows Tim Hecker knows that his music never compromises in terms of beauty. Along with his back catalog, Harmony in Ultraviolet is without doubt an ambient record, only pushed into more extreme terrains than the likes of Eno saw fit to tread. Hecker also manages to inject his tracks with an energy that many ambient musicians overlook, so Harmony in Ultraviolet doesn't for a second seem like a slow listen. A remarkable piece of work.

Reviewed by Mike Wright
A staff writer based in London, England, Mike Wright is eternally troubled by the American bastardization of the English language.

See other reviews by Mike Wright



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