Release Date: May 10, 2019
Record label: Kranky
Genre(s): Electronic, Experimental Ambient
Serving as a companion piece to Konoyo, its six tracks are taken from Hecker's overseas stint while at the Jiunzan Mandala-Temple Kanzouin where he collaborated with the gagaku ensemble Tokyo Gakuso. Hecker continues to be at the top of his prime - working well beyond his range by capturing mesmeric compositions where he bends and unites sound in unimaginable ways. But while its output oftentimes scurries next to dark, foreign passageways, Hecker abides to its counterpart for its majority: a strangely meditative experience built around something holy.
Ambient music is having a moment, or so the algorithm would have you believe. Streaming apps are intent on offering the stressed-out masses the promise of the perfect mood-management tool, optimized to increase focus and settle nerves whether you're coding, falling asleep, or writing music reviews. As I type these words I'm listening to a Spotify mix called Productive Morning that has 435,363 followers, many of whom, I assume, play the Album Leaf and Jon Brion as they down salt juice and stack nootropics.
Released within a year of one another, Konoyo and Anoyo, Tim Hecker's two most recent albums, cannot avoid comparison. Both draw from the same Japanese studio sessions, in which Hecker and sound engineer Ben Frost worked with members of the Tokyo Gakuso ensemble, musicians who specialize in the traditional Japanese court music known as gagaku. Even the album's titles suggest symmetry: konoyo translates to "the world over here," while anoyo refers to "the world over there." Konoyo, released last September, was lauded as a nuanced union between an ancient art form and contemporary electronics.
Released as a companion piece to last year's Konoyo, Tim Hecker's new album is a relatively slim and minimal affair. It is filled with synthy ambience, which verges on drone music at times but pulls back with a synth lead here and a melodious bassline there, and East Asian instruments dominate with their contrasting timbres. Anoyo opens with That World, featuring plucked strings that start off sparse but layer on top of each other in processed forms to form a cavalcade of sound.