Tim Hecker * Phonsonic

No Highs

TIM HECKER – NO HIGHS   Also on Spotify

Well, this is quite a statement: No Highs ‘serves as a beacon of unease against the deluge of false positive corporate ambient currently in vogue. […] this is music of austerity and ambiguity, purgatorial and seasick. A jagged anti-relaxant for our medicated age, rough-hewn and undefined.’ 

I had to re-listen to this album with this statement in mind (I usually listen to albums without reading any background information first), because somehow I felt that No Highs was somewhat less ‘in-your-face power ambient’ than some of Hecker‘s earlier albums. I also try to not look at track titles at first listen, too, otherwise, titles like Monotony, Total Garbage, Pulse Depression, Anxiety, and Sense Suppression would probably have altered my experience somewhat in the intended direction. I guess this shows that the perception of music is always related to the context (and mental state) in which it is experienced.

But it’s true: Hecker‘s music is nowhere near ‘false positive corporate ambient.’ It is not the kind of ambient you enjoy while relaxing on your yoga mat – this music needs your full attention and engagement. It’s, as it is stated, ‘an escape from escapism’.
But still, throughout, the pieces are ‘more attuned to undertow than crescendo’.. and I guess that was exactly what triggered me in the first place.



For the pieces on Chrome, Alexander ‘Phonsonic’ Caminada started with ‘a simple found sound, a randomly generated sequence or a melody played on an instrument’. From there the pieces further came alive while improvising. The result is a collection of seven pieces, each telling a different story with a different atmosphere. Some of the tracks use sequencer patterns, while other tracks are more abstract.

Even though his Bandcamp page presents 20 different titles, there is not much background information about Phonsonic as a musician. Discogs only mentions the self-released Temporal Discoveries from 2020 and even puts more emphasis on Caminada’s other (main) work as a professional photographer. Something to be proud of, definitely, since he provided visuals for releases by none other than Michael Brook, Roger Eno, and Djivan Gasparyan. Of course that is a different branch to work in, but Chrome demonstrates that the music of Phonsonic (or Konstruct, for that matter: his collaboration project with Andrew Heath and Simon McCorry) deserves the same attention too.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

One Comment