Philosophy has never been my strong suit, but one can’t very well discuss Speculative Solution without it. Florian Hecker’s music is only one part of the package, acting as an illustration of the concepts outlined in the textual component of the box set. Originating in a commission from the U.K. arts organization Urbanomic, Speculative Solution is an engagement with and reaction to the work of French philosopher Quentin Meillassoux. Compiling three essays, one CD and five small metal balls (more about those later), Speculative Solution engages Meillassoux’s concept of hyperchaos, which disavows the certainty of any linkage between cause and effect, and thereby presents the world as theater of infinite potential, where, at every moment, every possibility has equal odds of occurring. This theory cuts directly against the grain of traditional scientific and empirical thought, casting Meillassoux as the father of some super-powered skepticism in which even the laws of nature are subject to change…but are also just as likely to stay the same.
In his essay “This is This,” Robin Mackay describes how Hecker’s music adopts the theory of hyperchaos. It’d be tough to simply summarize it here, but, as Mackay explains, those expecting wild disorder have the wrong sort of chaos in mind: this is music in which absolutely anything can come after anything else, not music in which absolutely everything must follow everything else. A true aural representation of hyperchaos is a concept that threatens to tie the mind into knots, so Hecker’s Speculative Solution is only an approximation, an attempt to wrest the sonic arts from the shackles of rules and expectations. The results are unabashedly abstract (which doesn’t necessarily mark new terrain for Hecker); keeping in line with Meillassoux’s anything-is-possible ethos, the music is, as expected, the product of seemingly random transitions and sequences almost impossible to predict. To catalog the sounds that pass the ears over the hour would be like taking roll on Noah’s ark: they range in tone, intensity, clarity and dynamics, a diverse collection of discrete sound events, presented in no particular order. It’s not as wildly erratic as it could be, though, with Hecker’s electronics going through periods of timbral homogeneity, and the results occasionally relaxing into repetitive modes. After all, as with the flipping of a coin, randomness can produce consistency as easily as it does change.
Just as those little metal balls seem to bounce every which way when they inevitably fall out of the box (I don’t think mine broke any of the laws of physics, but there’s still one lost in the hyperchaos of my apartment), the movement of Hecker’s music is near impossible to anticipate throughout Speculative Solution. This makes for interesting, if not always engaging listening, and though one needn’t read all of the accompanying text to enjoy the CD, it will certainly help. The music, in fact, is more interesting as an embodiment of Meillassoux’s theories than as a stand-alone. The listener who’s willing to do some reading and chin stroking will likely find Speculative Solution an interesting confluence of philosophy and sound; those who simply want to listen may often find their enjoyment stymied by the music’s particular unpredictability. Speculative Solution doesn’t encourage passive engagement and therefore may have limited appeal…but (if I may be allowed to crudely paraphrase Meillassoux ) you never know.