Pitchfork Music Festival 2012, live review | Tim Hecker
Leave it to Pitchfork. Most other festivals would evaluate a potential act by its ability to rock a crowd or at least inject some form of fan-fueled energy into the day's proceedings. Pitchfork revels in the opposite—and Tim Hecker is a pristine example. An accomplished abstract and ambient-noise technician, he neither rocked or fueled any fan freak outs. But he did mesmerize.
At the onset, I wondered what a crowd full of Tim Hecker faithfuls would look like. My mind's eye told me tall, European and clad in all-black asymmetrical clothing designed by a friend in Berlin. In reality, Hecker's the one who most closely resembled that image. Manipulating a table of gear—laptop, mixing board and various effects processors—he clicked his way into a sea of static, warm musical tones and waves of indistinguishable noise.
At times it took on a vaguely baroque feel with the clamoring of harpsichords and the ghostly drone of the Icelandic pipe organ that served as the chief source material on his last record, Ravedeath 1972. Of course, his set was also not without the digital farts and clipping soundwaves that accompany this style of music. It was often the sound of a system pushed to the limits; a sort of organized chaos as angular as the clothing I expected the crowd to be wearing.
The actual fest goers in attendance generally stood in a trance, the grey sky and increasingly heavy rain adding as good a backdrop to Hecker's music as he could ask for. The only break from the static crowd came from the occasional fist pumping from randoms hidden within the sea of faces.
As performance art, a live set from the Montreal producer isn't terribly dynamic. There might as well have been a sign that says, "Not Much to See Here." But as audio philosophy played out in real time, it's about as dense and thoughtful as it comes.