Rating:

I feel like the time of year plays a big part in a piece of music’s impact, which is why November 19th might just have been the perfect date for Tim Hecker and Daniel Lopatin to release their collaborative album, Instrumental Tourist. To many, Tim Hecker may be something of a household name by now but you will also be familiar with the work of Lopatin under the guise Oneohtrix Point Never. A few months ago, when I first heard that two titans of such magnitude were planning to bash their heads together and see what fell out, I was both ecstatically excited yet had a sense of underwhelming trepidation. Each renowned and respected in their own right as solo artists, what if  they couldn’t pull it off?

Lucky for winter lovers everywhere, they did. So put on your thermals, tuck yourself in and prepare to have your bones metaphorically chilled.


I’m always extremely cautious who I recommend ambient music to. A certain level of due-diligence in to their character and existing musical tastes has to undertaken until I’m secretly confident they won’t think I’m being ‘weird’ or a ‘hipster’. Or worse, they quip “great, I need some new sleep music!”. Instrumental Tourist presents itself as well-meaning, approachable and accessible collection of ambient pieces from two sound artists who could have decided to start a good ol’ fashion freak out. Yet at the same time it’s neither timid or abashed, and mixes in just the right measure of other worldly weirdness that both contributing sources are famous for.

Never before on a collab or split have I heard quite as balanced a palette as on Instrumental Tourist. Hecker and Lopatin both slap their signatures in equal measure over each and every track, creating something that is reminiscent of their solo work but something completely new and truly collaborative. At it’s core it’s haunting; 55 minutes of cold, steel blue soundscapes. From a distance we’re rewarded with a patient masterpiece that’s never too quick to climax and sustains for 55 minutes without pause. Perfect for a winter’s midnight lethargy (N.B. not sleep music).

If the themes of the record weren’t clear enough from the music, the track names reinforce the sense of isolation and alienation. The record title itself - Instrumental Tourist - describes many of the reasons why I love these two musicians so much.

They are themselves tourists; creating sounds that have never been heard before in new and fascinating ways. I believe that the likes of Tim Hecker and Onohtrix Point Never are pioneers in a 21st Century musical revolution. They are redesigning sound – let alone music – playing the part of scientific audiophiles most of the time, yet treading well on the correct side of the fine line that is, simply, ‘noise’.

Instrumental Tourist is everything that I had hoped for as a fan of both contributors and marks the next step for these two musical revolutionaries. Contender for album of the year! Would recommend to a friend (after substantial character profiling…).