For an exploratory artist who chose to focus exclusively on sound installations in his formative years, Florian Hecker’ Speculative Solution is his thirteenth release for the Editions Mego label. Early Mego, and related releases, generally gave me a headache (in more ways than one), and the formidable reputation of Florian Hecker proceeded my initial exposure to his recorded work, when reviewing his 3 track 12â€ last year. Retreating into hyper-chaos, philosophical arguments and chronic, seemingly random sounds generated by a massive array of malfunctioning computers, Speculative Solution is released in conjunction with the UK-based Unrbanomic arts organization, who â€œpromote research activities that address crucial issues in contemporary philosophy and science and their relation to contemporary art practiceâ€.
Speculative Solution has more layers than your average CD release; housed in an embossed box containing five small ball bearings, these create a hyper-chaotic noise even before the box is opened. Inside, there is a 160-page book with essays by Quentin Meillassoux, Elie Ayache and Robin Mackay. Inspired by the philosophical works of Meillassoux, who posits the concept of “hyper-chaos: the absolute contingency of the laws of nature’. Try explaining that to the victim of a tsunami, or a falling human beholden to the law of gravity; I had enough trouble getting my head around the philosophical discourse contained within this release after a protracted period of immersion! Billiard balls, cinnabar, and Extro-Science Fiction are now all swimming around in my head, further dismantled into shards of inscrutable philosophical reasoning by the savage electronic tones and dada-jump cuts of the audio quotient of Speculative Solution.
Mackay states, in reference to Hecker’ composition, that Speculative Solution
â€œparticipates in a circuit in which it, the accompanying texts, and diverse other objects, enter into a perpetual catalysis that must annihilate all priority, representation, reference, and even entityâ€
I certainly felt as if my own entity had been erased after high-volume sessions with Speculative Solution. The 32-minute duration of “Speculative Solution 1′ is reminiscent of a rusty, buckled bicycle wheel linked up to a laptop running MaxMSP. Periods of low-volume stasis are subsumed beneath woozy waves of stereo-separated Sheppard Tones similar to Marcus Schmikler’ Palace of Marvels (queered pitch). Ear-piercing tones and spasmodic rhythmic imperatives make for an uneasy listening experience; someone please put a drop of oil on the circuitry! Like Autechre’ ever-changing almost-loops, the patterns never seem to quite begin at the same point, or head in the same direction. Disappearing down an ontological wormhole, a passage of relative serenity emerges from the hyper-chaos.
Playing tricks with perception, memory and the sanity of the listener, “Octave Chronics’ stereo-panning ear-strafing sine waves and woozy physically affecting tones are similar to a cross between a car alarm and a clock radio rudely propelling you into a new day. Cold and impenetrable, yet manic and schizophrenic at the same time, a malfunctioning malevolent super-computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey seemingly recites Xenakis at eight times the original tempo. Offering an alternative to John Cage’ chance-controlled compositional techniques, Hecker develops Quentin Meillassoux’ natural philosophy into an audio signal both potent and maddening in equal measure. But will the kids like it, I wonder?