Issue December 21, 2012

Instrumental Tourist

Tim Hecker & Daniel Lopatin
SOFTWARE

Ambient music is often presented as something meant to be unobtrusive. This is furthest from accurate on Tourist, the collaboration between ambient/electronic mainstays Daniel Lopatin (of the synth-heavy Oneohtrix Point Never) and Tim Hecker. For an ambient record, this is busy. Missing is any sense of serenity or pensive rumination, replaced instead with churning drones punctuated intermittently by bursts of static or sine waves. Opening track “Uptown Psychedelia” bristles with electronic crunch and subtle, wavering synth lines, like an angry modem rendered as an art installation piece. This formula — layered synth and electronic noises — is repeated throughout the album, creating through a repetition of ideas, if not sounds, the ambient landscape the genre promises. Sadly, this collaboration is a bit unbalanced, coming off more as a Tim Hecker record than a synthesis of both artists.