Published Sep 25, 2018With his 2016 release, Love Streams, composer Tim Hecker processed the emanations of an Icelandic choir into diffused beams of refracted oblivion, with incredible results. Konoyo (Japanese for "the world over here") finds him collaborating with a gagaku (Japanese classical court music) ensemble in a temple located just outside of Tokyo, and resisting the urge to create dense coagulations of sound.
Instead, Hecker's manipulations of the stringed, percussion and wind instrumentation are delicate and graceful; a welcome spaciousness presents itself.
Strings are the immediate focal point here, as ornamental plucked tones and searing bowed scrapes are sent cascading across smeared synth melodies and roaring waves of granular noise. The howling of falling bombs introduces "This Life," before a subtly manipulated twang coaxes forth a solemn melody that is eventually wrapped in pounding swells of synth drone. A frayed, almost industrial, atmosphere hovers around "Keyed Out" until a series of barely touched gagaku emanations storms into focus, captivating the listener. The lengthy, and devastatingly loud "Across to Anoyo" closes out the proceedings with a thunderous mania that stands apart from the almost ceremonial nature of the preceding material.
Hecker's clever ability to shift and adapt is clearly on display with Konoyo. A dreamlike song cycle, the album is more than an extension of the grandeur of Love Streams. It's a refined, focused exploration of traditions both adhered to and transcended. (Kranky)