Tim Hecker makes grand and haunting ambient music, with massively thick and detailed sounds and progressions, making it something best experienced in the foreground rather than as the background atmosphere which ambient music is often used as.
Belgrave turned out to be ideal for this situation – it was my first time going, but its ability to hold a large crowd while still feeling intimate, as well as its powerful speakers, meant it felt unpretentious and exposed you fully to the weight of Tim Hecker’s music.
Before the performance I hadn’t really realised how much bass there was in it – its strange harmonies and metallic sheen are the most distinctive parts, so I expected it to be a case of appreciating these in the high definition of a live soundsystem. Instead it was a very full-body experience, the bass was crazily loud and constantly pulsating, then reverberating around the room, so that you felt enveloped. While wrapped in the bass the higher pitch synthesizers were moving around within it, droning for long periods of time and clashing to make a sound with a lot of dissonance. It created an uneasy feeling but it was also very cathartic, especially when harmonies shone through, releasing the tension.
It progressed through different sound forms and from menacing to rapturous moods across the hour. I closed my eyes through this time since the room was pitch black, the music putting strange thoughts and images in my mind. It felt like it was over within twenty minutes, and I would happily have stayed listening another hour.
Header Image Credit: Belgrave Music Hall