Tim Hecker is a Juno award-winning Canadian composer and sound artist. He has spent the last decade inhabiting a unique intersection between noise, dissonance, and melody. In his varied and celebrated works, digital and organic sources tightly intertwine. The result is a hybrid aesthetic that recalls electronic abstraction and psychedelic American minimalism. Hecker purposefully obfuscates the clear tonal distinctions of traditional instrumentation, preferring to cultivate enigmatic, uneasy soundscapes. The beauty and crush of Hecker’s sonically processed noise has been compared to “tectonic color plates” and “cathedral electronic music.” As the New York Times put it, he plays “foreboding, abstract pieces in which static and sub-bass rumbles open up around slow-moving notes and chords, like fissures in the earth waiting to swallow them whole.”
In 2011, NPR named Hecker as one of the Top 100 Composers Under 40. His 2003 album Radio Amor, released on the acclaimed German electronic music label Mille Plateaux, was recognized as a key recording of that year by WIRE magazine. In the years since, Hecker has worked extensively with the distinguished Chicago-based label Kranky. His album Harmony in Ultraviolet (2006) warranted comparisons to Brian Eno and Kevin Shields, and was ranked #13 on Pitchfork’s Best Albums of The Year. His 2012 effort, Ravedeath, 1972, was nominated for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize and won the Canadian Juno Award for Electronic Album of the Year. Virgins was recognized by the WIRE magazine as one of 2013's top five records.
In 2016 Tim Hecker returned with a live performance of inspiring new material taken from his album Love Streams on the 4AD label, which further solidifies his unique position as a contemporary master of volume and texture. The sonic intensity of his live show has been paired with an experimental light component programmed by Berlin’s MFO developed primarily at EMPAC / Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY. Hecker has performed at prestigious events and venues as diverse as Barbican Center (London), Primavera Sound (Barcelona), Unsound Festival (Krakow), All Tomorrow’s Parties (Minehead), Fondation Cartier (Paris), Bimhuis (Amsterdam), Sydney Opera House, among others.
Hecker's production work is also international in scope. Ravedeath, 1972 was first conceived during a long Montreal winter, developed at the Banff Center for the Arts in Alberta, and completed during a summer spent in Reykjavik, Iceland. With the assistance of musician and engineer Ben Frost, Hecker recorded on a pipe organ built inside the Frikirkjan Church, and later manipulated the recordings to corrosive effects. Hecker would continue to explore his interest in firmament-minded sound with a performance for pipe organ at Krakow's St. Katherine's Church as part of Unsound 2010. He would go on to sample some of his tremendously physical live recordings for Virgins. The 2013 album can be seen as a rending of the curtain between the theoretical underpinnings of his art and the ornate violence his music can project onto a room. Hecker returned to Iceland, once again enlisting the Bedroom Community chamber musicians to imbue the record with an organic weight. The thrilling results were not lost on critics. Spin noted that it is, "...inspiring to hear an artist—especially one who started out as mellow as Hecker—double down and make a statement so confrontational." If Harmony drew comparisons to Kevin Shields at his most contemplative, Virgins matches MBV's roiling, speaker-shredding peaks. NPR commented on the breakthrough: "...with Virgins, Hecker may have reached his point of no return, [creating] a piece of such force and clarity that even the indifferent should tape up their windows. In 2016 Tim Hecker joined the esteemed 4AD label, which houses the likes of Holly Herndon, Bon Iver, The National, Scott Walker, Grimes, et al.
The veteran artist's working environment has become less cloistered, more expansive and collaborative. In keeping, Hecker has worked with the aforementioned Frost, on the full-length Instrumental Tourist with Daniel Lopatin, and alongside musicians such as Oren Ambarchi , David Bryant (Godspeed You! Black Emperor) and Aidan Baker. He has also collaborated with video artists Doug Aitken and Stan Douglas in several installation pieces. His remixes include John Cale, Philip Glass and the band Mogwai. Hecker’s work also includes commissions for contemporary dance, film scores, and various writings, having recently composed music for the documentary Massacred for Gold, which premiered at the Copenhagen Film Festival in late 2013.
Hecker currently resides in Los Angeles and Montreal.
One of Canada's most celebrated sound artists imbuing electro-magnetic b-rolls with humanity and grace.
Imagine the most beautiful music in the world. Then with an old thrift store camera, take a super grainy snapshot of that music. Fold up the photo and place it in an envelope and mail it to an address that no longer exists. 20 years later, happen upon an old abandoned post office, and discover that letter unopened, but browned with age, remove the photo and place it in your pocket. Lose those pants on a camping trip, only to discover them the next summer, all wadded up in a corner, sprinkled with a years worth of dust and cobwebs. Wash the pants, and only afterwards discover the photo. Prop in up in the window of the cabin to dry, where it sits soaking up the sun for the whole summer. Right before you leave, grab the photo of the most beautiful music in the world and place it in your book to mark your place. Place the book back on your shelf and forget all about it. Move several times over the course of the next several years, finally unpacking a dusty old trunk filled with books. Leaf through several of them, when suddenly the most beautiful music in the world flutters to the floor, dusty and tattered, worn and nearly transparent. Finally, tear it up into tiny pieces and drop them one by one into the speaker of an antique victrola, wind it up and what comes out will be Tim Hecker's Harmony In Ultraviolet.
A shuddering, visceral implication of... epochal decay, of penumbras of radiation emanating into space from an old, saturated world.