Earplug to the Underground: Tim Hecker and Faust

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Fringe music is an elusive beast, indeed. Whereas the points of slick tales of love and loss are usually pretty obvious, the undercurrents of the avant-garde are infinitely harder to navigate. Enter your intrepid guide: Earplug. In this bi-monthly series, Flavorwire’s sister publication — home to several experimental, indie, and techno experts — will separate the hidden gems from the record bin rejects, helping the adventurous among us pluck new albums from the outer edges.

After the jump, reviews of exciting new releases from Tim Hecker (sci-fi sonic symphonies) and Faust (a remix album in reverse).

Tim Hecker – An Imaginary CountryTrue to title, ambient wizard Tim Hecker’s new album is the travelogue for a phantom world, a dense, headphone-friendly flight of the navigator across shifting textures and fractured melodies. All the while, Hecker plays sonic tour guide, introducing the sublime tumult of surging organs on “Sea of Pulses,” then pausing for lunch at “A Stop at the Chord Cascades” as layered synths shimmer like sunlight passing through a waterfall. It’s an immersive, tactile world of synaesthetic pleasure: organs become waves, spastic loops turn into a pond teeming with microcosmic life, white-noise pads are transfigured into winds across a boundless plain. An Imaginary Country bears a more languid pastoral touch that balances the bold crescendos carried over from Hecker’s last record, Harmony in Ultraviolet, infusing more direct emotion into his sci-fi sonic symphonies. The heart on Country’s sleeve is obvious to the eye in the shadowy desolation of “Borderlands,” where mournful peals of piano echo across the abyss. It all adds up to a gorgeous, dynamic evensong, the digital psychedelic visions of an inner cosmos. – William Rauscher

Faust – C’est Com… Com… CompliquéIn Krautrock’s major league, Faust were its most deranged operatives. Their dada splatter, molten-drone splurge, and aggro-minimalism was almost combatively anti-groove. Still savage after all the years, core members Werner “Zappi” Diermaier and Jean-Hervé Péron’s latest, C’est Com… Com… Compliqué, is a remix album in reverse. Its contents were originally mutated and masticated by Nurse With Wound in 2007’s collaborative Disconnected. But away from NWW’s dissecting table, the tunes on Compliqué are quite coherent and largely complete. They’re also less kinetic. NWW’s mediation widened the spectrum of climates and tones; it also sharply jump-cut tangents and proffered unsettling eldtrich moods. C’est Com… Com… Compliqué hews to splattered art skonk with occasional lapses into lightly-prog orientalism.Restive opener “Kundalini Tremolos” is, fittingly enough, a surge of strobing guitars and rhythmic breathing. Diermaier smacks scattered metals and eventually finds a starkly frantic tribal stomp befitting Cambuzat’s hive of pull-apart ebow melodies. “Accroché à tes Lèvres” skulks around Péron’s thickly-plucked bass thwacks and gutted organ hums. The supple baritone guitar noodling on “Ce Chemin est le Bon” and warbling Tuvanese throat-singing of “Stimmen”, both seem like half-warped raw material awaiting deformation by NWW’s sewing machine. Altogether, it seems the weak link, or straw man, here may be Cambuzat. Generations removed from his fellow, founding Faust members, his calamitous, FX-lathered gush and push-button atonality feels somewhat more emulative than inspired. We’re pretty far from the Dream Syndicate, but its still restorative to sense flashes of ferocity in Diermaier and Péron. – Bernardo Rondeau