Tim Hecker Radio Amor

[Mille Plateaux; 2003]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: experimental ambient, glitch, minimalism
Others: Fennesz, Jetone, Gas, Bola

When you ponder some of the supreme ambient records to date, you might think of albums like Eno’s Music for Airports, Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92, and maybe even KLF’s Chill Out. However, not many people are familiar with the work of Canada’s Tim Hecker. As somewhat of a sound minimalist, Hecker has proven, in just a short period of time, that his music can stand up to any of the above-mentioned artists when it comes to creating intense layers of thought-provoking ambience. In 2001 Hecker released an amazing composition of moody swagger on the infamous Canadian label, Alien8 Recordings, entitled Haunt Me Haunt Me, Do It Again. Even though Radio Amor is truly remarkable in its own rights, it’s not quite as effective in the end as Haunt Me. Not completely unlike its predecessor, though, Radio Amor continues to embody what Tim Hecker is strongly becoming known for: spacious, artistic beauty.

The sights and sounds of a trip to the Caribbean inspired Radio Amor. This experience has been transformed into an ambient concept album of sorts and is dedicated to the life of a high-wire shrimper named Jimmy that Hecker met along the way (hence the name of the first two tracks). Serious drones and manipulated piano take on the bulk of the responsibility here to imitate the sights and sounds he experienced along the way. Each song is separated by inaudible radio squelches that act as the glue to the entire experience. Furthermore, the instruments are ever so slightly manipulated to create a sublime and calmingly subtle experience. Therein lies the true genius of Tim Hecker’s work as an ambient artist. Once you’ve become part of one of his albums, you’re generally only left with a single image or thought that insists on several more listens to fully register any cohesive thoughts. Radio Amor has a simultaneous tangible/intangible quality that is both miraculous and enigmatic. It proves that, once again, Hecker has the ability to enthrall his audience with the slightest amount of chaos, but with numerous layers of ambience.

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