o doubt my critical brethren are falling all over themselves at this very moment, eagerly lavishing praise on PV Trecks, Hecker's follow-up to the Prix Ars Electronica award winner Sun Pandämonium. I might join them in judging the new release a masterwork of digital sound design, a towering landmark that defies noble attempts to distill its sublimity into words. I also might deem it pioneering and genre-defining, perhaps a harbinger of a radical paradigm shift in abstract electronic music making.
Or I might pursue a more straightforward route and dryly report that its thirty-three compositions total thirty-four minutes, with six of them longer than two-minutes and the rest fleeting fragments, one lasting a mere 4.0 seconds and others 6.8 and 8.2. I might list song titles like “Y-Gwaot Phase Inv,” “lxi 6,” “Femtoje Helical,” and “VS 86246710115.0291,” and mention that the artist credit reads “Hecker: Computer.”
To mollify those hankering for an impression of the recording's actual sound, I might provide some hint of its sonic character, and, aware that such a gesture could only pale in the face of the recording's depth, would only do so to give those not yet privy to its genius some glimpse of the transformative experience that awaits. I might note qualities of individual pieces like the following: ostinato patterns of squelches and clicks plus blasts and fuzzy static (“Y-Gwaot Phase Inv” ); industrial splatter (“Y-Gwaot Phase Inv” ); groans and croaks (“Y-Gwaot Phase Inv” ); shards and spectral bursts (“CLA”); blurry, stuttering thrums (“Femtoje Helical”); lurching hiss-laden puffs (“Reverb & Resynth 5”); entropic grinding chatter (“PM Synth”); and violent scrapings (Verxir 3 Mix”). I might take pains to point out that the boingy noises in “PDO” last 4.0 seconds and that, when those boingy noises are multi-layered in “IP PDO,” the duration changes to 4.6 seconds.
But I will do none of those things. What I will do is report that PV Trecks is, upon first listen, a passably engaging travelogue through computer-generated sound and, upon subsequent listens, a work of tedium. I will argue that Ellington's dictum holds true even here, as there is good computer music and bad computer music―Pita’s Get Out an example of the former, PV Trecks the latter. I will argue that Hecker's recording fails to cohere or develop into a work of lasting significance, and that it lacks musicality and humanity. Finally, I will defy the delusional urge to judge PV Trecks a stunning achievement in sound design and describe it instead as an half-hour assemblage of mildly interesting computer noises but nothing more.
Reviewed by: Ron Schepper
Reviewed on: 2004-07-23