Published Feb 16, 2011This week, Montreal musician and sound artist Tim Hecker marked the release of Ravedeath, 1972, his first new album since 2009's An Imaginary Country. But for those listeners hoping to simply sit back, relax and soak in the soundscapes with Hecker's latest, they may want to look elsewhere.
While discussing the often tense and complex album in a recent Exclaim! interview, Hecker explains, "In the beginning, it's a false start, a kind of a turn-away, like 'Don't cross. This river it's filled with blood,' or something... [But] that tension and anxiety slowly dissipates towards the end of the record and it has an almost romantic finish to it."
Ravedeath, 1972 was recorded primarily using an old pipe organ in a small wooden church in Reykjavík, a recording location discovered by Iceland resident and collaborator Ben Frost. The raw material was then taken back to Hecker's studio in Montreal for a month of mixing and finishing touches.
"I brought in pieces that I had been working on that needed something else to them and improvised a lot and layered over them and transformed them through the organ," Hecker says. "Afterwards, it was just a question of montage and editing decisions. It's a hybrid of a studio and a live record."
As Hecker explains, the concept of the album is at least partly about the digital over-consumption of music and its ritual destruction. With its simultaneous vital importance and trivial pointlessness, music can sometimes become overwhelming.
"[Music is] this thing that fills everyone's lives all of the time, but it's this thing that is completely taken for granted, and it's also totally fickle and it's infuriating and it's overloading you and it's often not good," he explains. "It's often not done very well and there's also a system of production that doesn't reward people who do it well, so it's kind of fucked up in a lot of ways."
As far as the album title's date, 1972, is concerned, Hecker confirms it is in reference to the inaugural MIT students' piano-drop stunt (as seen in the fan video below for the record's opening track, "The Piano Drop"). However, the "Ravedeath" part remains a mystery, even to Hecker himself.
"I have no idea. I remember seeing blood on someone's face in some rave apocalypse reported last year and I don't know if somehow that stuck in my head, but it really just happened in some weird way on its own," Hecker says of the album title. "It was just like the wrongest and the most right title ever. It had a life of its own after a while."
Hecker plans to start touring in support of the album this spring, hopefully including some organ performances in small churches on this side of the Atlantic. And while no dates have been announced just yet, Ravedeath, 1972 is out now on Kranky.