Tim Hecker

at Summerhall

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Canadian composer treats Edinburgh to a night of ambient noise.

Image of Tim Hecker

Canadian composer Tim Hecker has been making ambient and obscure music for over fifteen years. He has released several albums and EPs with the most recent long player being Love Streams in 2016. The musician is performing at the Dissection Room in Summerhall this evening as part of the venue’s excellent Nothing Ever Happens Here series of gigs.

Brian Pokora and Fern Morris are the two members of support act Super Inuit. They use synths, guitars, samples and vocals to create atmospheric music that feels experimental and unpredictable. Fern’s vocals add to the majestic electro sound and the audience are enthralled by their exciting and interesting soundscapes. Soon after the support act leave the stage, the house lights go down and Tim Hecker begins his set. The venue is in complete darkness with no stage lights illuminating the musician. He delivers the performance in total darkness and forces the audience to immerse themselves in the music.  The set up feels more like a sound installation, as opposed to a concert or gig and it gives an aura of mystery around Hecker and the music he creates.

Hecker’s music is evocative and ambient. His compositions are like a soundtrack to a disturbing and edgy movie and very difficult to pin down. For example the EP Dropped Piano presents a series of tracks that are presented as “Sketches”. Meanwhile 2013 album Virgins is an expansive and record that is confident in it’s obscure nature. Live the experimentation and obscurity is also evident and out in force. The set begins in a hushed and understated form. Noises and sounds seep their way out of the speakers, until the individual soundscapes rise in volume and blend together. The noise feels like a series of spirals that forge together to create a massive and expansive sound that has body and weight.

The performance is a musical journey and delivered as one entire 45 minute set. There is space for quiet moments and subtitles, but the performance is at it’s most powerful when the music is bold and like a giant monolith, taking up space in the Dissection Room. The set itself is incredibly short and with the performance delivered in entire darkness it did test the patience of some of the audience members. However, the performance was original in it’s form and delivered in a mysterious and enigmatic way.