Tim Hecker – Anoyo

Tim Hecker follows up his Konoyo album with Anoyo, a further collection of beautiful sounds inspired by the Japanese sound of gagaku

Album Review by Joe Creely | 08 May 2019
  • Tim Hecker – Anoyo
Album title: Anoyo
Artist: Tim Hecker
Label: Kranky
Release date: 10 May

Following the same pattern of its companion record (arranged as one continuous piece with the titles creating one sentence) it would be easy to see Anoyo as a mirror record of Konoyo. However, the tone moves away from what was at times a punishing intensity on Konoyo, and sits more in a space of weightless uncertainty.

In moving towards less desolate themes, Tim Hecker’s sonics become noticeably warmer and more beautiful. The wails of flutes and strings that build throughout opener That World have a gorgeous romantic swirl to them, but Hecker’s mournful plods of bass and minute flashes of static draw a more emotionally complex picture. It drifts close to The Caretaker’s visions of faded opulence but is always more abstract, less tied to a specific timeframe or aesthetic and closer to a half-memory undergoing a slow dimensional collapse. Similarly the ghostly wandering synths of Step Away From Konoyo are gorgeous, slowly emerging from nothing, like an aural creation myth told in four minutes.

Despite the odd glimpse of it on Konoyo, one of the surprises of this new record is the prominence of percussion. The rolling rumble of drums that opens Is But a Simulated Blur works spectacularly with the whistling drones and quiet bursts of synth to create a Morricone-like whirl of kinetic tension.

Penultimate track Not Alone is the only point where Hecker’s attempts to meld gagaku – ancient music from the Japanese royal court – and his own style falls down. The most remarkable feat of Konoyo and the majority of Anoyo is how they manage to rework and decontextualise the Japanese instrumentation so that it all blurs with Hecker's drones and synths into one cohesive piece, but here it ultimately sounds like two different tracks layered over each other, never quite slipping into coherence. 

Despite its brevity Anoyo contains some of the most straightforwardly beautiful music Hecker has made in some time, and makes for a strong companion and continuation to the themes and sonic developments made on Konoyo.

Listen to: That World, Step Away From Konoyo, You Never Were