For the next offering in my survey of the state of Drone music, I would like to explore Tim Hecker’s Ravedeath, 1972. While I have been listening to the record since it came out, I was hesitant to cover it for a number of reasons, most of which involve my shifting perspective toward the album. While I have certainly been obsessed with it since I first played it, I interpret it differently each time I give it a spin. It’s complicated, abstract and thoroughly enjoyable. It found ways to grow on me, but I hear it differently each time.
The Kranky website gives a nice summary about how it was recorded: “Recorded in a church in Reykjavik, Iceland and using a pipe organ as the primary sound source, this new piece is essentially a live recording. In reality, it exists in a nether world between captured live performance and meticulous studio work, melding the two approaches to sonic artifice as a unity.” Nether worlds aside, there’s a lot going on in the murkiness and the oscillation between distortion and pristine clarity.
Thematically, the record is about social reactions to music. Destroying instruments, pirated records and social hostility toward innovation were the starting points that Hecker reacted against. I imagine scenes of riotous audiences attacking performers and venues being burned to the ground. It’s dark and intense at first listen, but I have grown to hear sounds of an artist refusing to submit to reactionary provincialism. Tracks like “Hatred of Music” sound like they are fighting back and pushing against the grain, refusing to roll over or submit. Ravedeath, 1972 is both en engaging call to sonic arms and a statement about how music can be steamrolled by sonic hegemony.
As far as points of references for this album, I hear the feistiness of Coil’s Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil, the sonic flourishes of Fennesz’ Endless Summer and the hints of William Basinski in the softer parts of the record. So yeah, Ravedeath, 1972 is worth a listen. The disparate elements of the record work together in a complete unity, and this easily may be the most successful work Hecker has produced in a long line of standouts. Listen and enjoy, because this is a more action-oriented approach to Drone.
Tim Hecker – Hatred of Music I