For his eighth studio album, Canadian-born Tim Hecker returned to Greenhouse studios in Iceland where he had previously worked on parts of his two previous records; ‘Virgins’ and ‘Ravedeath, 1972’. While there are obvious similarities that can be made, ‘Love Streams’ is altogether more arresting. Tracks like ‘Bijie Dream’ and ‘Castrati Stack’ with their sharp, freeform synth arpeggios leap out at you and demand your attention. This is not an ambient record that you can simply let wash over you, although it does sporadically lull you into that headspace.
Hecker’s command of dynamic shifts and ominous swells makes this an extremely engaging album. It may not be as tempered and consistent as albums like ‘Ravedeath, 1972’ but the way in which ‘Love Streams’ pulls in a wealth of elements into one cohesive whole is masterful. Each track seems to balance out the ripples from the one before it; harsh distorted elements give way to softer eerie soundscapes. Vocals from the Icelandic Ensemble Choir are peppered throughout, pitched and contorted they surface on nearly every track to create a necessary running theme.
The album ends on a subdued note with the haunting melodies of ‘Collapse Sonata’ followed by the wailing bass notes of ‘Black Phase’ but this is less of an anticlimax rather than well delivered downshift. ‘Love Streams’ shows the full breadth of Hecker’s talents and yet still reads effortlessly as a whole, something which is particularly crucial within the field of beatless or ambient music. Less reliant on theory or process, 'Love Streams' is a testament to Hecker’s innate musical sense of direction.
Words: Jack Dolam
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