For all the pressure put on artists to surprise us – Change it up! Evolve! – we lob some pretty contradictory expectations on our favorites. For every fan that will bemoan a retread, there’s two more that miss the way they used to sound, the way the music used to feel. Walking the tightrope of being recognizable yet new is an unenviable dance. As much as we may inherently desire the familiar, it’s nigh impossible to revisit a high with anything nearing the same feeling. So, it’s unsurprising that so many visionary artists tend to leapfrog inspirations and ideas from album to album.

All this can make it quite the bummer when an artist lands on something truly inspired, a space in which they function at maximum capacity, a space within which they simply seem meant to be in, only to hop away a few short years later.

Hence, when one elects to spend just a bit more time somewhere before forging ahead, and it doesn’t result in a diminished return, it’s both a decidedly rare and genuinely exciting prospect.

This leads us to Anoyo. When Tim Hecker announced Konoyo less than a year ago, it seemed a somewhat risky prospect. Departing from an adored, typically self-envisioned and self-sustained career to join Japanese musicians of Tokyo Gakuso, had the potential for disaster. After all, white men seeking inspiration from Asian culture tends to bear the risk of falling to appropriation, rather than creation.

Yet the album deftly avoided any criticism, melding Hecker’s world with the one into which he’d entered with grace, vision, and a genuine sense of wide-eyed curiosity and appreciation. It stood, and still stands, alongside his very best work.

It felt a shame, then, to leave that world behind without taking a moment to linger. Rejoice, then, at the appearance of Anoyo, whose own announcement arrived unexpectedly a few short months ago. Recorded in the same period as its predecessor, it largely explores the same sounds and space, yet with a distinctively different perspective, intent, and feeling.

What’s truly astounding is that, rather than being a curiosity left behind in the wake of a creative Goliath, it turns out to be something more akin to a David. This writer may well be in the minority, but with time spent in the subtle, saddened nebula of Anoyo, I’d argue it not only matches its (certainly fraternal) twin, but exceeds it.

Whereas Konoyo was often grand, consumed in a (righteous, to be sure) concern for its own ideas and musical adventurousness, Anoyo is satisfied to use its Japanese instrumentation to paint in far subtler shades. It’s all the more impacting for it. Where Konoyo left you in awe, Anoyo takes you in its arms, beckoning you to some nonexistent world, lying only somewhere between Hecker’s mind and the Japan of its co-creators, (at risk of making the most obtuse statement of my writing 'career') somewhere between memory and desire. Fittingly, the title roughly translates as "the world over there". It’s a truly astonishing labyrinth to explore, at that.

Indeed, ‘Into the Void’, and Anoyo at whole, will make you feel as if you’re journeying into exactly that, its distant throb and electronic blips seamlessly combining with the dense, emotive playing gently overlaying it. As the thudding dreams near the end of ‘Not Alone’ enter you into a realm not yet imagined, it dreams of somewhere unreachable, content to exist solely in the feelings it creates. This is a world to become truly lost within. Fair warning, you may not want to come out.