Playing Pop: Tim Hecker

Montreal’s Tim Hecker plays live electronics in the dark at the Rialto tonight. Read about his new record, Virgins, here.


Tim Hecker

Tim Hecker has been forging a path through experimental sonic territory for over 15 years, but it took the release of 2011’s critically acclaimed album Ravedeath, 1972 to propel his career to new artistic heights.

In short order, he was invited to headline international festivals, won a Juno award for electronic album of the year and had a chance to collaborate with other artists in studios from Seattle to Reykjavik to his home base here in Montreal. It was in these locales that he found the time last year to lay down the compositions for what would become his latest album, Virgins.
While Ravedeath, 1972 explored distortion and sonic decay, Virgins seems to be more finely textured, with layers of synths, woodwinds, percussive instruments and haunting pianos coming in and out of the mix.
Ahead of his performance at Pop, I was able to reach Hecker over the phone from his home for a brief talk about his new record, his live performances and other plans.
Michael Sallot: A lot of your new album was recorded from live ensemble performances. How do you typically prepare for this type of recording? I imagine that there is a lot of rehearsal and experimentation involved.

Tim Hecker: It’s a lot of back-and-forth between big, improvisational, electronically sourced things. In the past, I’ve finished records just by working on my own, in the box, so to speak, with electronics. This time, I brought pieces to a studio and tried to work with woodwinds and keyboardists, and wrote little parts. I gave them generalized instructions and had them play. It kinda worked in a more hybrid fashion.
MS: How are you approaching performances this time around?

TH: It’s a continuation of what I’ve been doing for years, which is kind of like a more intense, cluster-fuck version of what I do on record. I don’t bring out live musicians very much. I’ll play a lot of synthesizer. I’ve done a lot of treated pipe organ concerts. This time it will be fairly straightforward and immediate. It’s live electronics in the dark, and it’s pretty loud, I suppose. I generally use PAs at a pretty high volume. I also want to work with light and fog a lot more. ■
Tim Hecker plays between Colin Stetson and Bobo & Chris at the Rialto (5723 Parc) on Friday, Sept. 26, 8:30 p.m., $18/$22

See our Music Team’s Pop Montreal picks here

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