Review: Tim Hecker – Anoyo

Tim Hecker will need no introduction. His music is constantly at the forefront of the genre, using electronic production and meticulous editing to shift, warp, pitch-bend and glitch his drawn out synth sounds. Hecker’s approach to drone is surprisingly hyperactive – something you wouldn’t necessarily associate with drone – his compositions are frequently shifting and morphing, whilst still running on the same steady path; the equivalent of gazing dreamily into a lava lamp. He’s also a fantastic conceptual artist, with each of his albums sculpting their own world, narrative and running theme. Last year’s highly acclaimed studio album Konoyo was born out of his visit to Japan, recording with the Tokyo Gakuso ensemble, which gave him extra percussive layers to manipulate. In a rare move, this brand new album, Anoyo, is a direct sequel to Konoyo recorded in the same sessions, rather than being a new standalone vision.

Anoyo very much draws from a similar sonic pallet to last year’s incredible parent album Konoyo. Even the song titles echo each other, with Konoyo‘s final track ‘Across To Anoyo’ hinting towards this release, which is mirrored back on ‘Step Away From Konoyo’. With these tracks being recorded (and presumably completed) within the same sessions as Konoyo, one has to wonder why the two weren’t paired up as a double album in the first place. But there are noticeable differences between the two. Konoyo‘s hour-long journey feels much bigger, more cinematic, thematic and expressive. It’s a real trip. Anoyo on the other hand feels more like an epilogue or a comedown, and runs at nearly half the length at a modest 35 minutes. The compositions are much sparser, minimal and droning, never feeling as grand or as if they are trying to grab the listener. The Tokyo Gakuso’s use of percussion is also presented in a much more organic form. This time, Hecker leaves their pulsing clanging sounds in a much more natural state, instead weaving his own synth and electronic parts around them, giving a less synthetic feel.

Though Anoyo feels sparser and less engaging, it still stands as a fine body of work from Tim Hecker. Yet one can’t quite shift this nagging feeling when listening to this album on its own, the way it has been presented by both Hecker and the label Kranky; Anoyo doesn’t say anything that Konoyo didn’t already speak in volumes. It feels smaller and less significant coming less than a year after its predecessor. The album feels achingly like a bunch of leftovers and afterthoughts, despite flowing well as an album and still being one of the drone and ambient highlights of 2019 so far. One can only wonder, if both of these albums had been originally presented as one double album, would it have made an even bigger impact? Those who were mesmerised by the world of Konoyo owe it to themselves to listen to Anoyo as well, but long-term Tim Hecker enthusiasts will have preferred to have been invited into his next universe.

Anoyo is out May 10th on Kranky. Purchase here.

Words: Chris “Frenchie” French

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