Tim Hecker: Virgins – album review

Tim Hecker: Virgins (Kranky)
CD/LP/MP3
Release 14th October 2013
10/10

Virgins is Tim Hecker’s much anticipated follow up to his sublime 2011 album Ravedeath, 1972. It is an album that shares much of the same DNA as his previous works whilst also displaying a keen sense of progress.

The album was recorded live in studios in Reykjavik, Montreal and Seattle and it’s this style of recording that gives this beautiful and sometimes chaotic album its heart. Sounds enter then disappear leaving barely a trace, whilst others pop up in a slightly altered fashion later on. The album is, like much of Tim Hecker’s work, extremely heavily textured and demands repeated listens, it is only then will you discover its true heart.

Virgins is an extremely spiritual piece and, on tracks such a Live Room and opener Prism, there is a sense of faith being strongly clung on to as the world around it erupts into chaos. Gospel piano morphs into progressive jazz whilst tracks like Virginal 1 and Virginal 2 seem dark and foreboding at first listen but after a while a sense of rhythm emerges lending a pulse to the machine.

 

This pulse is most explicit on closer Stab Variation which is a delightful slab of alt-techno and one that really gives the listener a sense of what Hecker was ingesting around the time of recording (Hecker loves leaving little musical hints as to what he was listening to at the time without resorting to plagiarism or copying).

The whole album is extremely percussive and rhythmic whilst dissonance and serenity do battle for the ears and for the mind. Whilst tracks like Incense At The Abu Ghraib and Radiance lead into Goth like territory again reinforcing the belief that there is a deeply spiritual yet conflicted person behind the album.

With Virgins, Hecker has once again shown us that whether with live instrumentation or electronics, there needs to be a human heart beating behind the music, and within chaos there can also be found peace.

~

Tim Hecker can be found at his website and at his Facebook and Twitter pages.

All words by Simon Tucker. For more of Simon’s writings for Louder Than War visit his author’s archive  or follow him on Twitter @simontucker1979

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