To call Tim Hecker’s 20-minute live offering Norberg a slow burn may be to overstate its pace. Like much of Hecker’s work, this is an exercise in atmosphere and spatial tension. The grind and swell of grit-toothed machines rise and fall over a sublime and calm foundation of warm, drawn-out drones of electronica. But, rather than a slow burn, this is the sound of dying embers, of the smoldering ashes of last night’s bonfire that Hecker is now standing over, in the cold morning air. He pokes at them occasionally, and the embers surge hot and angry, but the fire they once were—the light and warmth it provided, the company standing around it—is a distant memory. The whole piece sounds isolated and reflective, beautiful and alone. So much so that when the piece ends, and the crowd roars with applause, the sound is startling. Up until then, the crowd is so silent that the piece sounds like studio work. But their approval at the end makes their silence throughout all the more affecting. Hecker’s sound may be a solitary one, but it is an isolation we can all relate to.
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