Essential Tracks This Week: Tim Hecker, Heather Woods Broderick and more

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Tim Hecker

With the most stacked day of new releases of the year so far happening this week, it’s starting to reach that point where keeping up is proving to be a challenge for an independent music site like the one you’re reading right now. But hey, we like a challenge, especially when it means getting to hear lots of new music. And this week’s best new songs lean a bit heavier on the atmospheric and the abstract. That happens sometimes—they can’t all be big riffs and soaring anthems. Here are the best new songs of the week.

Tim Hecker – “Lotus Light”

Tim Hecker’s music is often built from parts that are broken, damaged, scratched and scraped—the elegantly reshaped noise of Ravedeath 1972, for instance. But not exclusively; distortion and obfuscation are a part of “Lotus Light,” the first song he’s shared from new album No Highs, is more about the building of tension rather than the distress Hecker puts his compositions through. The slowly unfolding and evolving piece, rife with pulsing synths, is reminiscent of ’80s film scores by the likes of Vangelis and Tangerine Dream—that synthesizers in relatively straightforward fashion are recognizable at all is fairly unusual for Hecker, though this isn’t by any means simpler or more direct. It’s still a compelling emotional journey, but it no longer requires climbing through razor wire.

From No Highs, out April 28 via Kranky

Heather Woods Broderick – “Crashing Against the Sun”

After the release of her ambient album Domes in 2022, it’s not necessarily that surprising to hear a song of hers begin with synthesizers instead of piano or acoustic guitar. But there’s an urgency and maximalism to “Crashing Against the Sun” that feels like Broderick opening up her sound into something more expansive and limitless. It’s her most blockbuster single to date, a heroic closing-credits anthem of a song, with an arrangement reminiscent of M83 biggest pop moments. While it’s often the graceful nuances that define her best songs, Broderick shows just how much more than that she’s capable of.

From Labyrinth, out April 7 via Western Vinyl

Steve Gunn & David Moore – “Over the Dune”

A collaborative composition between a contemporary guitarist and singer/songwriter and an ambient artist would probably naturally end up sounding like “Over the Dune.” That’s not a statement on anything other than its general atmosphere, but the serene mixture of guitar and piano sits right in the folk-ambient sweet spot, a gentle set of beautiful melodic movements that’s graceful and continuously compelling, even as it soothes. Gunn in particular has released more urgent and intense music, particularly as one half of Gunn-Truscinski Duo, but this presents the other side of that—a fluid intersection of differing but complementary musical approaches, converging in something intricate and delicate.

From Let the Moon Be a Planet, out March 31 via RVNG Intl.

Rob Mazurek – Exploding Star Orchestra – “Future Shaman”

“Future Shaman” is something of an all-star Chicago jazz production, led by trumpeter/bandleader Rob Mazurek, featuring vocal chants from Damon Locks, produced by Jeff Parker, and released through International Anthem (naturally). But if that’s not enough to capture your attention, the undeniable groove of “Future Shaman” will. Driven heavily by funk rhythms and layers of keyboards emanating a kind of haunting glow, “Future Shaman” invokes the spiritualistic mysticism suggested by its title through jazz-fusion intricacy and funk strut. Over the course of its eight and a half minutes, it veers closer and closer to genuine freakout, with scratchy guitar licks gradually growing more chaotic, but it never spills over into chaos. Mazurek and company simply wouldn’t let a groove this good go to waste.

From Lightning Dreamers, out March 31 via International Anthem

Fever Ray – “Kandy”

It’s hard to say which guest appearance on Fever Ray’s upcoming album is more exciting—Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor or Karin Dreijer’s former musical partner in The Knife, Olof Dreijer. New single “Kandy” certainly lends a lot of credence to the latter, given that it’s the second single the kind-of-reunited duo have released from new album Radical Romantics (following previous collaborative single “What They Call Us“) and it’s also yet another stellar song. A slow, ethereal kind of calypso, it evokes a kind of Caribbean-influenced sophisti-pop sound from the ’80s—and then feeds it through The Knife’s uniquely warped filter. But there’s a tenderness to it that’s not always present in material from either The Knife or Fever Ray, casting aside some of the more sinister aspects in favor of a song that’s genuinely pretty, if still leagues from ordinary.

From Radical Romantics, out March 10 via Mute

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