Tim Hecker
Virgins


4.0
excellent

Review

by csvhrvrnxell USER (7 Reviews)
October 9th, 2013 | 361 replies


Release Date: 10/14/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Virgins sees Hecker at his most lucid melodically and rhythmically, yet arguably represents his most challenging work to date.

Most music in the broad “ambient” arena ostensibly works best when it carves out a space for the listener to inhabit, often as concerned with the subject position of the observer as it is with the content of the music itself. With the burden of organization placed on color, timbre, and texture rather than clear rhythms or melodic content, the music can feel deceptively static, with listening more like looking at a painting or exploring a large irregular space. Perhaps this is why the experience for the ambient listener seems to lend itself more easily to cross-sensory visual metaphors than any other style. Tim Hecker’s strength as a sound artist has always been his ability to effectively mix this “visual” style with an immediacy and knack for barely-concealed melodicism that reveal his roots in more traditional electronic music.

For more than a decade, Hecker has been crafting expansive, sometimes gorgeous sound landscapes, injected with a sense of vitality through white noise and bass drones, which work on a more visceral level to pull the listener into Hecker’s sound space. This marriage of heady and heavy elements reached a zenith in 2011 with Ravedeath, 1972, an album that for all its abstraction remained a truly immersive and personal listen. While this remains true of Hecker’s latest full-length Virgins, in many ways the album is a departure from his past work.

On Virgins, Hecker takes a decidedly more rhythmic approach to his by now well-established brand of sculpted, reverberating musical abstraction. Skittering, percussive piano and rich woodwind feature alongside the sweeping church organ and distortion sounds that have become signatures of Hecker’s recent music. While this record is still essentially beatless, the layers that make up these pieces often move along independently with distinct pulses and trajectories, creating polyrhythmic spirals of staccato piano motives, as in the “Live Room” suite, or gyrate mechanically in tandem as on opener “Prism.”

Much of this approach will be familiar to those who know Hecker’s previous work, but Virgins possesses a certain ghostly eeriness and perhaps most importantly, a heightened attention to negative space that mark a departure from the cavernous, icy textures and pastoral drones of his past few releases. Hecker’s affinity for streaks of color, bursts of electronic noise, and spiky textures still shines through, shrouding the sometimes dense rhythmic figures in the kind of digital fog listeners know him for. Yet even at its most intense, there is a liberating openness to the pieces on Virgins, an extraordinary clarity to the actual sound of this work that belies the density of the arrangements on display. At times the nakedness of woody, untreated bass clarinet or acoustic piano allows the listener to almost see the spaces the album was recorded in, a degree of intimacy that is new to Hecker's catalogue.

This album sees Hecker at his most lucid melodically and rhythmically (Dropped Pianos' bare sketches notwithstanding), and yet arguably represents his most challenging work to date. In the past Hecker has described his albums as failed attempts to crystallize his vision into an ideal form of "intellectually satisfying ecstatic music." Virgins might be the closest he has come yet.



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user ratings (299)
Chart.
4
excellent
other reviews of this album
Bergtatt (4.5)
Do you remember the first time the world faded into one body?...

TheNexus100 (3.5)
Hecker won't quit....

DoNotBendAscend (4.5)
Virgins is a finely tuned integration of both meditative and cerebral experiences in music, producin...


Comments:Add a Comment 
sniper
October 9th 2013


19077 Comments


two sniper reviews in one year?

whoa

this is probably a little sloppy as well, let me know.

sniper
October 9th 2013


19077 Comments


stream below

http://www.npr.org/2013/10/06/228840821/first-listen-tim-hecker-virgins

crazyblinddude
October 9th 2013


3389 Comments


sick

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
October 9th 2013


6160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

whoa this didn't have a review yet??

sniper
October 9th 2013


19077 Comments


it leaked more than a month early but the stream just went up yesterday. it doesn't even come out until the 14th.

cbd what's up brother been a while

GnarlyShillelagh
Staff Reviewer
October 9th 2013


6160 Comments

Album Rating: 4.1

ohhhhhhhhhh ok coo

ShitsofRain
October 9th 2013


5911 Comments


Stigmata really hit me

Digging: Round One to Round Five - 1993-99 Main Street Records

Keyblade
October 9th 2013


15042 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Great review dude

Digging: Submotion Orchestra - Alium

DrHouseSchuldiner
October 9th 2013


5643 Comments


nice rev pos'd
need to check this guy might start here

Motiv3
October 9th 2013


8939 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

bout time this got reviewed. Album is amazing.

Relinquished
October 9th 2013


25217 Comments


the dude was so good live

Motiv3
October 9th 2013


8939 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah I saw him live a few weeks back and it was a fantastic experience. He played a lot from Virgins though the best part was In the Fog II & III which was just sublime.

SpritzSpritz
October 9th 2013


528 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

this album wrecks. i love how noisy live room gets

EaglesBecomeVultures
October 9th 2013


5255 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

yeah snipe!

pos so hard

Digging: Iceage - Plowing Into the Field of Love

mindleviticus
October 9th 2013


8293 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Awesome review, but I think this is his best since Harmony.

EaglesBecomeVultures
October 9th 2013


5255 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

AOTY

zxlkho
October 9th 2013


3465 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

why doesn't this album have as much hype as Ravedeath, 1972

mindleviticus
October 9th 2013


8293 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

bcuz people are stupid and think ravedeath was a gift from god when it wasn't even his best

jk everybody you're all smart individuals

EaglesBecomeVultures
October 9th 2013


5255 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

let's not argue let's just revel in the beauty of this album and how perfect it is for the month of october :D

Keyblade
October 9th 2013


15042 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This is such a good review tho, snipe write more man damn



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