Tim Hecker at the Barbican
Haunting, piercing and ethereal, Love Streams – the eighth album by Tim Hecker, released back in April 2016 – is a powerful work of composition and a true testament to his sound design. Bathed in a haze of mist and accompanied by soft translucent lighting by the Berlin-based MFO (aka Marcel Weber), Hecker stood at the centre of the Barbican stage as he delivered a feast of his musical talents, known to laymen as the drone and ambient genre.
Scattered with distorted guitars and pipe blasts, the Canadian musician’s pieces at once bring on feelings of anxiety, pulling at emotions like a toy tugged by threads of string. Each layer of his music battles to be heard above others and should one close their eyes, a painting may well emerge. For all its ambient qualities, however, the live performance doesn’t quite meet the mark as a gig should. There is a quality to Hecker’s music that would suit wide panning shots of natural environments, of creating an intense feeling of what is about to happen or could happen. Such a feeling is wasted sitting in an auditorium, and indeed it can begin to grate on the nerves. Forty minutes in, a fair few members of the audience had begun to filter out.
The lighting itself felt overly minimalist and seemed to miss so many of the cues that Hecker’s soundscapes provided. It was frustrating that rather than simply fading between blue and purple colours, the lights could well have followed the unique sounds, and visually expressed them in time with the music. As it was, it just felt like a scene, that never really went anywhere. The ambient and drone genre is certainly a niche one with regard to live performances, and perhaps this proves why. In an auditorium surrounded by other people, it may well be too difficult to truly let oneself float away on soundwaves.
For further information about Tim Hecker and future events visit here.