Anoyo (meaning ‘the world over there’) goes back to Japan, drawing once again from sessions with Tokyo Gakuso, who featured on last year’s mind-bending Konoyo. Inspired by a form of Japanese classical music performed at the Imperial Court and recorded in a temple on the outskirts of Tokyo, Anoyo, releasing May 10 via Kranky, is starker than its predecessor, a skeletal and stick-thin entry with a contained inner power, stripped of all outer fat and tonal indulgence. Hecker clothes the music with composure and elegance in what is a different area of the same temple.
Like a candle in a subtle breeze, Tim Hecker’s music flickers into life, rising through intense dynamic change and yet capable of falling back into stillness and reservation. Nothing is ever seen head-on. His apparitions appear at odd angles and the music thoroughly rejects conformity. The traditional atmosphere evokes emperors of old, and ancient rituals seep through to the listener, but Anoyo tunes into the 21st Century, too. With a healthy respect for tradition, the music sways like a hypnotized cobra, its traditional gagaku movements evoking a limitless space in which notes can ascend and bend.
Hecker’s music is striking and respectful, wanting to meld the two worlds of tradition and experimentation – as is the case on the closer – while keeping a watchful eye upon the music’s original sound, the state of its soul and the purity of its essence. Hecker never loses sight of the temple in which the music was recorded. The temple, not necessarily the instrumentation, is paramount to Anoyo’s sound, becoming both first stone and first tone. The music echoes with its reverential atmosphere, drenching the album in smoke as well as the cultural and emotional importance of its architecture, its tradition and ritual, from which a spiritual connection may form. The outpouring of shock and grief as tragedy engulfed Notre Dame highlighted the emotional and spiritual power between place and person. They stand guard over us, symbolizing and defining a culture and a nation. We tie ourselves to them.
Above all, Anoyo is full of healthy respect, but Hecker’s more than willing to innovate, transcribing the traditional and bending the tonal possibilities of its ancient instrumentation. So we hear its weeping and wailing, as well as the dramatic bombast of a call-to-arms, a war-cry which transfers to a red-blooded synth, as sharp as any sword and matching the flame-red sun at the centre of the nation’s flag – the Hinomaru, the ‘circle of the sun’. Its music has been a witness to many eras. Hecker turns the tone while keeping the essence bottled up and confined to a space of quiet safety. The tones rise like the sun, a red streak of dawn arching up and over the temple, covering it in shades of fiery light. And like the dawn, Anoyo is an entirely new work, an elemental piece of music, curated from atmosphere and nothing else. The surrounding mist is as much a part of its music as its humble use of wood and string. Shrouded in reverence and lighted only by candles, Anoyo is a work of solitude – not loneliness – in spite of its many contributors, seeping in through its long, drawn-out notes and its continual stream of smoke.