[9 November 2006]
While “Whitecaps of White Noise” is in fact the title of a standout two-part suite for static and disintegrating synthesizer from Tim Hecker’s latest release, Harmony in Ultraviolet, the phrase perhaps has larger utility in describing Hecker’s current sound as a whole. On the track, as throughout the entire album, Hecker builds dense soundscapes from the ground up, eschewing any trace of recognizable sources in favor of slowly surging feedback washes and a pulsing murmur of bleary, degraded keyboard tones. Fragments of melody stumble forward to glance, scratching and popping, off of a crackling sheen of overdriven pads, while the noise floor eases in and out, lapping at and occasionally submerging the other elements in a sort of warm, carefully sculpted tape hiss. The result is intricately textured ambient noise nonetheless displaying a a strong sense of composition and emotion, a trick managed well by only a relative few contemporaries, the likes of Christian Fennesz and Alva Noto. As such, Harmony is very likely Hecker’s finest work to date, an album that pulls unlikely beauty out of jarring noise and warbled instrumentation, and that may in fact possess the capacity to interest listeners who had previously bypassed noise as experimental curiosity.