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Hecker - Neu CD

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Artist: Hecker

Album: Neu CD

Label: Editions Mego

Review date: Aug. 6, 2010

Many reviews of Florian Heckerís last album, Acid in the Style of David Tudor, lingered on the title and the 12-page essay by philosopher Robin Mackay that started just below it on the cover. The resulting positions nicely outline the major responses to Heckerís extremely demanding kind of non-music. Sean Schuster-Craig saw the title as a red herring, "a way of grabbing onto the most apt referent in a music that doesnít sound all that much like anything." Heís clearly overwhelmed by the visceral experience of the music, although he doesnít offer a clear aesthetic judgment, leaving us to wonder whether heís won over or just impressed. Writing for Resident Advisor, Ian Mathers said he couldnít imagine anyone listening to the album for pleasure, and argued that the concept, as explicated in the essay and through Heckerís synth-analog computer setup, squashed any sense of musicality. Its only value, for him, was that it inspired thinking.

Most of these reviews were positive in a general way, and some were negative in a specific way. Listening to Hecker is a lot to take in ó the sounds and their arrangement bypass the usual pleasure centers and seem to exist simply as an auditory phenomenon rather than a meaningful, coherent experience. Sitting still for a Hecker album requires serious application. Itís the first hurdle in a music riddled with them. Whether youíre a good candidate for appreciating it might be gauged by your reaction to the following description, taken from the press release of his latest release, Neu CD: "the repetition of rhythmic patterns slowly densify the emission of events, further rupturing the sonic affect into a new re-structured gestalt."

Annoying-sounding, formally austere electronic music is quite at home on Peter Rehbergís Mego label, which has released most of Heckerís music, but Hecker is also known for his collaborations with Aphex Twin and has a release on Richard D. Jamesís Rephlex label. On the one hand, Heckerís music demands a kind of fine-art appreciation by taking the guise of Serious Research into Perception, and on the other, he clearly enjoys dicking around, making indigestible robot music that, it seems, people either try too hard to "get" or are easily offended by. Neu CD is a collection of pieces produced for shows at Berlinís Galerie Neu and Parisís Musťe díArt Moderne. Like another recent release, Alva Notoís For 2, this collection of commissioned pieces holds its own next to the artistís main albums because, even without being explicitly tied together by an albumís overarching theme, they relate to each other through the artistís rigorous conceptuality.

Hecker, like Alva Noto, typically uses a conceptual/theoretical framework to pare down his music to its most basic elements ó alone, neither makes music that could be mistaken for anything other than solo work. Neu CD does away with the concept, too, and whatís left is a more varied presentation of Heckerís visceral and undoubtedly very complex approach to sound synthesis. So NeuĎs biggest surprise ó the nearly ambient 17 minutes of "Yin Pitch Detection Synthesis Kissing" that convincingly recreate the sound of cicadas in a garden ó while boring and predictable, is a track you can actually chill out to (the other three here being shorter, piercing logarithmic workouts).

If you donít already have a taste for the kind of brutal math that makes Silver Apples of the Moon sound like Wagner, Neu CD wonít warm you up to it. Itís simply a good snapshot of a unique artist whose newness doesnít quite belong in academia, the gallery world, or at a Polish rave, but nevertheless exists in all these places at once.

By Brandon Bussolini

Other Reviews of Hecker

Sun Pandšmonium

Acid in the Style of David Tudor

Speculative Solution


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Find out more about Editions Mego

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