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Tim Hecker / Daniel Lopatin - Instrumental Tourist

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Artist: Tim Hecker / Daniel Lopatin

Album: Instrumental Tourist

Label: Software

Review date: Jan. 29, 2013

Instrumental Tourist is the meeting-of-the-motherboards collaboration between two of contemporary electronic music’s hippest names. Montreal’s Tim Hecker and Brooklyn’s Daniel Lopatin, a.k.a. Wire coverboy Oneohtrix Point Never, have both developed reputations as lone wolves of the drone scene, and finding them paired together has produced the expected squeals of glee from fanboys and marketers alike.

Verbiage on the Software Recording Co.’s website is heavy on Byron Coley-esque beat-gibberish such as “the intrepid cowboy sound-voyager was inverted, forging a synthesis with the Ecstatic Other,” which seems to mean they toyed with their machines to make strange noises. “The studio meetings… were conducted to mimic the tropes and techniques of jazz-based improvisation, with little preparation prior” clarifies: they didn’t spend a dot of time planning before starting to fuck around on said machines.

Still, while it’s difficult not to simply crack the LP in half upon reading such hyperbolic windbaggery, there is reason to let the tone arm drop. While wildly uneven and far from either’s strongest work, Instrumental Tourist does have its moments of inspiration.

“Uptown Psychedelia” opens with puffs of panning drone and speaker crackle sure to please fans of Hecker’s solo sounds. Lopatin, presumably, soon enters with some quick-keyed synth soloing, which adds a touch of melody to the piece. The track’s final minutes are increasingly taken hostage by fathoms-deep bass pings and signal-obstructing slabs of noise. “Intrusions,” one of the record’s most successful moments, expands upon this theme, pitting swirls of soft drone against an attack of corrupted-output hacks and coughs.

However, upon immersing oneself in many of the album’s other tracks, it’s difficult to shake the feeling that such sounds may have been generated by the pair’s computers committing Hari-Kari out of sheer electronic boredom. “GRM Blue II” is the album’s worst offender. Here, Hecker and Lopatin highlight the dregs of their jazzy experimentation. The track’s six minutes play out like a self-indulgent symphony of keyboard noodling and lazy noise gasps — as if the two had unknowingly pressed “record” while testing to make sure their instruments were, indeed, plugged in.

In the end, true fans will spend the time needed to discover the gems amongst Instrumental Tourist’s dunes of dullery. Be forewarned, however, as there is a great deal of sifting involved.

By Ethan Covey

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