As the godfather of ambient music, it is wise to heed to the advice of Brian Eno who famously said the genre is ‘as ignorable as it is interesting’. The music of Tim Hecker could not embody this statement more literally, as his explorative electronica simultaneously mystified and entranced the Thursday night audience at Colston Hall.
As somewhat of a newcomer to the ambient music scene, I found myself struck by the way that Hecker’s music played with both the rhythm of the body and the mind. His music combines the physical sensation of a bass drop coursing through your person with a sense of complete mental vacancy, so that whilst most music forces you to think - this forces you not to. Hecker himself remained remote and ominous onstage, shadowed in dark blue lights and hidden by the haze of smoke machines in a way that somehow defied being aloof. Rather than being distant, his music invited you towards him in a way that almost felt claustrophobic. The ambient style brings together the audience and the artist in a shared bubble, wherein the art is built on stage, in the moment, and feels as if it cannot exist outside of that room.
In his latest album, ‘Love Streams’ Hecker takes a deep dive into this sort of raw musical experience with standout tracks such as ‘Music of the air’, resonating through its dissociated voices and ethereal use of sampling.The set blended this with tunes from one of his more heralded albums ‘Virgins’, music that, having listened to it since, creates an entirely different experience live.
Hecker is undoubtedly one of the most interesting and unusual musicians working in any genre, and his music is as much performance art as anything else - you have to see it to believe in it.