Tim Hecker – Konoyo (Kranky, 2018)

The universe strains towards entropy, a state of low energy disorder. Complex structures are anathema to it, and there will come a time, trillions of years from now when the last vestige of order in space disappears and the distance between subatomic particles will be thousands of light years. The fact that you are alive now, in a state of order and highly evolved complexity, is a miracle in those terms, and an unsustainable and infinitesimally small blight on reality in others.

Konoyo means this life, this mortal world, this earthly plane of existence, and within the confines of Tim Hecker’s latest album is a tortured and conflicted landscape that equates to the human condition. We have been dead for 13.7 billion years, why are we alive here and now, why are we gifted with such pained transience?

Existential dread envelopes Konoyo in its all-too-brief journey, with “This Life” right from the start tilting us in to its fears with vertiginous, precipitous whoops and wails. It bends in ominous miasma, tolling strokes clamouring towards religiosity in the search for answers; rattling, droning textural fervour ploughs with an erosive force, life scouring briefly yet powerfully through the endless void that surrounds it.

Resignation descends in the reveries of “Is A Rose Petal Of The Dying Crimson Light” as the void stares back. A few spectral drones lurk softly in reverberant space, the soft hum of the cosmic background penetrating our corporeal form, biding its time until our return. We tune ourselves to its call in “Keyed Out”, dancing along in light yet increasingly chaotic tones. Aggressive notes strike out in descending tidal energy, the piece pitching and heaving along awkwardly as it moves through Konoyo, stumbling heartedly in its efforts to make sense of its own form in the time allowed.

We bend into greater perceptions, scale expanding in the slow roll of “In Mother Earth Phase”, brimming with fractal textural masses and machinations. Strings winnow and hum; synths unfold with sparkling artificiality; and Radio Amor reminiscent drones chug and skitter in the midst of its celestial evocations, admiration of this cosmic oasis so teeming with life. It makes the ending so much more melancholy as it begins to die away on crooning strings, its life phase mournfully ending.

“Across to Anoyo”, the other world, the afterlife. The spectral plane. Hard and percussive at first its rhythmic rigour makes way for distorted and distended masses, resistant and confused tumblings that spin fearfully. Catastrophic drones overwhelm, bending and reversing tones that bleed in prismatic erasure. Molecular fabric unwinds forcefully, painfully, the ethereal tearing itself from material constraints before it melts into a timeless slew. Physicality becomes a distant memory as it passes away to rejoin the universe’s natural, default state. We return to the nothing from whence we came, back to its simplicity and quietness, its painful sterility.

It is done, but what was it for?