TIM HECKER – An Imaginary Country (2009)

Tim Hecker - An Imaginary Country Much like Matthew Cooper (of Eluvium), Tim Hecker creates hazy ambient soundscapes – soundscaspes that can go shoulder-to-shoulder with Robert Fripp and Brian Eno’s Evening Star (I know I’m in the minority here, but to me, this is the album to which all other ambient albums must be judged). Unlike Matthew Cooper, however, Tim Hecker frequently disrupts his serenity by shifting his compositions in one direction or another; whether he’s creating/disturbing sudden swells of sound in a seemingly out of place fashion, or by tinkering with their stability by inserting glitches or spasms that would make Aaron Funk (of Venetian Snares) proud. The result is that a Tim Hecker album always sounds as if it’s being transmitted via radio, and Hecker is always messing with the tuning, eager to find a better position from which his sounds can be channeled from.

He perfected this approach with 2006’s Harmony In Ultraviolet, an album as beautiful as it was unpredictable, and one that ranks alongside The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid and Talk Amongst The Trees as one of the best ambient albums of the past ten years. On An Imaginary Country, Hecker conjures up images of lost land, and invites us to join him as we follow this back into its own past; the album’s bookends are 100 Years Ago and 200 Years Ago (which is a more vigorous reprise of the first song, implying that this land, wherever/whatever it is, is diminishing as time winds on).

Much like taking a road trip, there are section of An Imaginary Country that I tend to revisit moreso than others, like the submerged piano echoes of Borderlands and the ever-building crest of Where Shadows Make Shadows (a song whose scope calls to mind Whitecaps of White Noise I/II). As a whole, though, the album is remarkably cohesive, in addition to being a worthy follow-up to Harmony In Ultraviolet. And that’s a strong statement, but a true one.

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2 Responses to “TIM HECKER – An Imaginary Country (2009)”

  1. definitely one of the best albums of this year, and the strongest thing he’s ever produced.

  2. monopolyphonic Says:

    While I’m unsure as to whether or not I like it better than Harmony In Ultraviolet, I certainly can’t deny that it is indeed one of the best album’s of the year thus far.

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