Tunes: Fennesz and Tim Hecker

Up until recently I’ve avoided putting any music on my iPad, thinking of it as more a reading device than anything else. But I’m doing nearly all of my reading/skimming/annotating on that device and have occasionally needed to either drown out the noises around me or to simply make reading more of an event.

But this means reaching for music in my library that will swallow me whole and not get in the way, if you will. I lament having less summerpop bouncing around, of course, but it’s actually a refreshing change of pace and leaves me hungry for the more experimental, ambient stuff on labels I don’t usually follow, like Kranky. I’ve been getting into the usual suspects (Stars of the Lid, Dirty Three, and Labradford), but also two dudes in particular who I know very little about: Fennesz and Tim Hecker. Both have pretty deep catalogues.

Fennesz is actually Christian Fennesz, an Austrian electro-guitarist who offers up both the guitar and synth/computer as textures. I’ve been digging 2008’s Black Sea; that record, interestingly, has songs that feel like they have rhythm (which you can see in this video of him performing). The push that comes with that helps when the reading load becomes a slog.

Tim Hecker has been around for a long time (formerly as laptop-techno guru, Jetone), but I’ve only gotten into his most recent record, Ravedeath, 1972. I love the fuzzy glitch of the synth in this track, “The Piano Drop,” but the whole album is great in that its noise swells and disappears; and when the occasional naked piano (or something) pokes right through the wall of noise, it’s gold.