Review Summary: Virgins is a finely tuned integration of both meditative and cerebral experiences in music, producing an ugly and gorgeous, transcendent result.
Unpredictable synthesizer work, spacious droning, and organic instrumentation paired with jarring electronics characterize Virgins
, the new release from Tim Hecker, a renowned experimental artist. Hecker has toured with bands such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, with whom he shares thick and meditative soundscapes, but as Virgins
demonstrates, Hecker also employs inorganic, uncertain electronics and samples.“Prism” opens the album with oddly timed, shifting electronic tones. Although the sound of “Prism” is certainly unnatural, the timing is often impossible to anticipate, establishing the natural feel that Virgins
demonstrates consistently in careful unity with the often electronic instrumentation.
Hecker constructs an album that comes together cleanly despite his mix of natural and unnatural sounds. Key features of the instrumentation that highlight the primal side of Virgins
first appear on the album's second track, “Virginal I”, which brings swirling piano lines, introducing the first 'human' instrumentation on the album. Also present are low, breathing woodwinds which are the most effective and subtle piece of Hecker's instrumentation in contributing to the organic characteristics of Virgins
. The woodwinds bring the listener down from the cerebral exploration of electronic sounds and into a meditative place.
The development present throughout Virgins'
final three tracks demonstrates Hecker's expert harmony of the organic and inorganic. The low energy synthesizer swirls of “Stigmata I” break down into electronic minimalism after the transition to “Stigmata II”, fading into relaxing ambiance and calming woodwinds. All of this culminates in the album's closer “Stab Variation”, Hecker's most integrated marriage of inorganic and organic instrumentation and atmosphere. Echoing electronic pulsations slip into deep ambiance, both electronic and droning elements consistently remaining a part of the mix.
balances both the intellectual and primal experience throughout. Hecker invokes connections with both the mind and body to deliver an intensely holistic performance. He shifts back and forth from electronic tension and uncertainty to calm, primal drone before combining each element in an equal fashion on “Stab Variation”. Virgins
is a finely tuned integration of both meditative and cerebral experiences in music, producing an ugly and gorgeous, transcendent result.