A constant criticism of Tim Hecker’s music – and the work of his peers – is the way in which the pieces often prioritise the process and predominant concept over the end result. Too often we, as modern listeners, look for conclusions, answers and emotional rewards. We’re conditioned in such a way that it becomes routinely easy to dismiss any work that requires us to think about how, and why, the music itself was made. Many writers and artists have written far more profound and interesting pieces on this subject, but suffice to say, I find Hecker’s latest work very satisfying indeed.
Anoyo is a concise experience that takes you through multiple tones, moods and textures. Some segments are extremely beautiful, others can be testing, but these moments of discomfort are merely part of the journey. The lush tones of “That world” are made even sweeter when you consider what takes place afterwards. Much of the allure is in the instrumentation: a unique blend of ancient instruments and modern electronics, combining to create misty soundscapes. On the very surface, Anoyo can be narrowed down to soundtrack music, but I think the record totally transcends that.
Tim Hecker is often credited as an ambient producer, but Anoyo is at odds with Eno’s quote that defines the genre. There’s very little to ‘ignore’. To get the most out of the record, listeners must embrace the obscurity and relish the moments of discomfort; probing shadows in order to find answers. The records closing track “You never were” avoids any musical or emotional payoff; instead simply fading into darkness. It’s at this point where the album-art proves to be most poignant, and stunningly fitting. Anoyo may prove to be a striking and often challenging listen, but there are conclusions to be found if you look deep enough.
8 out of 10
Tim Heckers newest 2019 release is not your Sunday morning listening. And it’s certainly not your Saturday night listening either. Anoyo is darkly uncomfortable and at times nervously pretty.
Tim Hecker has been described as an experiential composer and that is not far from the truth. Each of his albums (or maybe more appropriately described as ‘pieces’) clearly begins with a concept and is realised with a collaboration. Hecker brings the electronic western production, and his collaborators on Anoyo bring ancient Japanese instruments, but also arguably, they bring the most redeeming aspects of the piece. The Japanese strings and drums are familiar to the ear if only a little, but bring respite from what can sometimes be a deeply comfortable arrangement. They say art is supposed to make you feel something, and quite often what I feel with Anoyo is anxiety. It’s what I imagine you might hear in one of those sensory deprivation tanks. But maybe that’s the point?
Heckers 2016 release Love Streams is much easier on the senses, with the collaboration with an Icelandic choir. However in both albums the production is always excellent. Sounds are always exactly placed where they’re meant to, even if that’s the ‘wrong’ place. Maybe best seen in the opening track. I just can’t help but feel it desperately needs a visual accompaniment. Anoyo may have perfectly executed its purpose with its darkly ethereal, anxiety inducing experience. But I have to say, it was was a listen that at times was not all that pleasant.
5 out of 10
Tim Hecker stands alongside Apparat this year, as they both release albums full to the brim with rich, organic, swirling and, at times, seemingly directionless music. Anoyo is somewhat of a different beast to LP5 though, and where the latter settled for delicate ambient moments without much weight, Hecker pursues a more ambitious work that tends to be less kind towards his listener.
Anoyo opens with a swirling, haunting soundscape, complete with irritable, leering strings up front and centre. It’s an atmosphere that’s strewn across the ~30 minute play time, mixing uninviting synths with acoustic instrumentation from across the world. It puts me in two minds as I listen through, where on one hand it builds into quite an impressive body of work while simultaneously making the experience feel arduous. By the time “Not alone” takes its turn, the incessant ebb and flow of the beating drums make for a downright unpleasant experience and “You never were” is almost comforting as it takes the reigns, albeit only a little.
It’d be remiss of me to trash this project entirely. Hecker clearly wasn’t looking to entertain his listeners with Anoyo and I can’t deny that I’ve certainly felt something about this album, which is a lot more than can be said for a healthy portion of the releases thus far through the year. With that said, it probably goes without saying that I’m unlikely to return for future listens and objective appreciation of this kind of album can only take me so far.
6 out of 10