Sunday, May 7, 2023

Tim Hecker “No Highs" & North American Tour May 10 - 20 | "Tim Hecker Helped Popularize Ambient Music. He’s (Sort of) Sorry" | The New York Times

Canada's electronic noise sculptor, Tim Hecker returns to the west coast after many years with a date at Neumos, on the cusp of his new album for Kranky Records. As with his recent string of albums for both Kranky and 4AD, his newest is an immersive music of unease, or in Hecker's own words, "‘I Make Pagan Music that Dances on the Ashes of a Burnt Church’". Discussing the rise of omnipresent streaming music organized into "moods", Hecker sees ambient music becoming a genre of convenience. Rather than inoffensive soundscapes that distract or soothe, with little utility beyond backdrop to work, study, or relax to, Hecker has returned to reflecting the pollution, agitation and conflict of our confounded reality. Like its more wholesome and innocuous ambient siblings, "No Highs" is immersive and embraces the listener in an ocean of sound. Unlike that growing body of work, it restlessly rejects easy submission to its tide. On this subject, Hecker spoke with the New York Times, inquiring; “What is the function of music? Is it to serve as a background for a WeWork, efficiency world, for someone who just wants to code?” Hecker asked. “Or is it for driving down a foggy road at night, wanting that experience amplified?”, he asks in Grayson Haver Currin's feature, "Tim Hecker Helped Popularize Ambient Music. He’s (Sort of) Sorry.". He details how, in the early days of the pandemic lockdown like so many who make their creativity their enterprise, he felt confounded and anxious, overwhelmed by home-schooling and managing living costs. He was concerned that there would be little or no music industry on the pandemic's other side, and wondered what he might create next, and for what purpose. He describes how he turned down an offer to produce sounds for a startup meditation app, and instead focused on streaming tv and film scores. The results were, Andrew Haig's miniseries "The North Water", and Brandon Cronenberg's third and higher profile feature film, "Infinity Pool". The process of bringing "Brandon Cronenberg’s Rich-on-Holiday Horror" to the screen were as difficult as its subject matter. Part body horror, part science fiction economic allegory, with hints of Ian McEwan and more than a little conceptual debt to J.G. Ballard's "Super-Cannes", the concerns and themes of this exploration of "Body Trouble", elucidates the conceptual underpinnings of Tim Hecker's work more transparently than any other recent offering by the composer. The film's gruesome commentary on class and a dividing global economy of haves and have-nots, speaks to Hecker's own thematic interests, which fittingly was a labor to bring to the screen, and wasn't without its own complications, "‘Infinity Pool’ and the Battle for an R Rating".

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Northwest Terror Fest at Neumos & Barboza: May 25 - 27

The Northwest Terror Fest returns to Neumos and Barboza for its fifth installment at the end of May. As with many festivals and arts events, the 2020 edition was postponed with the intent on returning when the global pandemic abated. This year's edition arrives after its successful return in summer of 2022, showcasing some of the most potent sounds from the heavier end of the 21st century issuing from the mutating offshoots of black metal. An all-things-metal festival with a previous Southwest iteration, Terror Fest's three days host a lineup featuring no small quantity of metal issuing from this particular low-lit landscape of black and doom metal mutations. Initially launched under the opportunity to, "Bring Warning to America: An Interview with Terrorfest founder David Rodgers", Rodger's wider curatorial vision for the festival, was detailed in Decibel's, "It's Good to Have Goals and Dreams Can Come True", and in a 2019 interview, the festival's co-organizer Joseph Schafer describing how "The Third Time (Is Still) the Charm". This year's lineup encompasses everything from gloaming atmospheric ambiance and doom riffs, blistering thrash and hardcore, and heavy psychedelic and stoner rock explorations. Making for a cross-genre spectrum of metal sounds and weighty atmospheres to be heard in sets from almost forty acts, in six showcases, spanning three nights. This year's lineup includes the highlights of metal pioneers Autopsy, the massive durational epics of Bell Witch, psych, stoner and doom from YOB, the theatrics of Ghoul, death metal revivalists Necrot, Misery Index, and classics like Impaled. Truly heavy doom from Conan, a rare appearance from Singapore grindcore band Wormrot, and grinding death metal from acts like Fetid and Horrendous, can also be found on the bill. Attending Northwest Terror Fest is to witness an annual summation of the global scene's ongoing and burgeoning development. These sounds have now come to encompass melodicism and atmospheres lifted from shoegaze and spacerock, eruptions of heavy psych rock, industrial drumming, synth exploration and electronic atmospheres, and pure experimental noise. The expansiveness of this sound is further detailed in Brad Sanders' essential overview, "Untrue And International: Living in a Post-Black Metal World". Beyond this primer, deeper reading and curation from this sphere can be found in the past decade of excellent selections in The Quietus' Columnus Metallicus column, covering releases dominantly sourced from labels like, Hydrahead, Neurot, Ipecac, Deathwish, 20 Buck Spin, Dark Descent, Sargent House, Profound Lore, Season of Mist, Roadburn, The Flenser, and Relapse.