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Tim Hecker - Virgins Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9.5
Musicianship 9.5
Lyrics 9.5
Production 9.5
Creativity 9.5
Lasting Value 9.5
Reviewer Tilt 9.5
Final Verdict: 95%
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Inside AP.net

Tim Hecker - Virgins

Reviewed by: Jake Jenkins (10/15/13)
Tim HeckerVirgins
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Record Label: Kranky

There are certain artists that make it incredibly easy to write about their music. Albums that are generally upfront about their goals and methods are the ones that I find myself having the easiest time reviewing, and if the album is something I thoroughly enjoy, it becomes even easier. But there are other albums, ones that are so ambitious, breathtaking, inspiring and moving, that the only way to describe them is to rely on words that are overused to the point where their original meaning is long gone.

This is the kind of music that Tim Hecker makes. Hailing from Montreal, Hecker has been putting out experimental ambient and electronic music under his own name since 2001, and with each subsequent album he has taken his incredibly unique sound to new levels that no one could have thought possible. He's the kind of artist that is nearly impossible to pin down, but every thing he does has a very distinctive Tim Hecker sound. When listening to Virgins, it is unmistakeably a Tim Hecker album, but it is a rather big departure from 2011's already classic Ravedeath, 1972. Whereas Ravedeath focused in on electronic manipulation, Virgins' main focus is the performance of music. The album, as a result, is a fluid exploration through various spaces and sounds that has a human element past Hecker works have been missing.

Ravedeath was a record filled with destruction, and some of that carries over into Virgins. “Prism” begins with a soft ambient noise that soon sounds like it's being torn apart at the seams. Even as the track gets louder and louder, though, it retains a sense of space and freedom that contrasts the claustrophobia of Ravedeath. The sounds on Virgins don't feel like they're trapped, but instead they feel as though they are free to morph and change and loop in any way they want, with the only constraint being the space they're in.

The attitude throughout the record is one that is typical of Tim Hecker albums, with somberness and dread filling in each crevice of the tracks. Words like "haunting" and "epic" are among those that are horribly overused, but for Tim Hecker's music, very few words seem as apt. There is a ghostly feel to songs like “Radiance” and “Virginal II,” the latter of which sounds like it is straight out of a horror film. Make no mistake, though, these songs feel very much alive, which can be attributed to the fact that these passages were played by humans. Virgins shows humanity more than any Hecker record has before, but his production process is still a very manipulative force that twists these sounds and loops into passages that are downright breathtaking.

Like most Tim Hecker records, the tracks here all seamlessly flow into one another to make the album a coherent, engrossing listen. Its ambient drone tendencies may make it easy to write Virgins off as background music, but the attention to detail that goes into crafting each and every second of the record makes paying full attention and letting yourself really dive into the sounds all the more enjoyable. Many parts of the record, though, like the relentless closer “Stab Variation,” do enough to instantly grab your attention, keeping you from having to force yourself to get immersed. The slower movements, like “Live Room Out,” still give the sense that they're building toward something, and as it makes way into “Virginal II” it becomes apparent that you never really know what's coming next.

Tim Hecker has put together a project that takes a wholly different approach than most of his other albums, revolving the sound around live performance and instrument textures rather than electronic manipulation. The production side of the record is still very much noticeable and at times just as overt as his past records, but amidst the chaotic parts, the instruments are still able to be picked out and still feel like they can breath. While very different, Virgins still feels like a logical step from Ravedeath in a lot of ways. Ravedeath was a relentless choke hold that refused to let go, and Virgins allows more movement and exploration. Its a testament to the fact that Tim Hecker is one of the best artists making music today, constantly pushing his sound to new heights while keep his signature style at the core of it all.

9.5/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 16
08:39 PM on 10/15/13
#2
Ryan Dennehy
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glad to see u woke up long enough to write this great thing!! ha!!
08:48 PM on 10/15/13
#3
Jake Jenkins
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glad to see u woke up long enough to write this great thing!! ha!!
hehehehe
08:50 PM on 10/15/13
#4
Ryan Dennehy
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f'real doe good job - i need to actually stay awake to listen to this more because i tend to listen late at night in my bed and :(
09:00 PM on 10/15/13
#5
Jake Jenkins
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f'real doe good job - i need to actually stay awake to listen to this more because i tend to listen late at night in my bed and :(
yeah its really really really excellent, i am expectedly very taken by it
07:05 AM on 10/16/13
#6
jco3
Oh, hello there, internet.
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Really enjoyed this album. Great stuff.
10:34 AM on 10/16/13
#7
Spartan789013
I should be proper for a change
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I'm at work now and I can't listen to this, but the review has me intrigued. I never heard of the guy, what would be a good RIYL to compare the sound to?
10:36 AM on 10/16/13
#8
Jake Jenkins
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I'm at work now and I can't listen to this, but the review has me intrigued. I never heard of the guy, what would be a good RIYL to compare the sound to?
there really isn't a good RIYL for him. he's incredibly unique and he's more of a sound artist and composer than a typical musician. his works are very abstract and structureless, so go in with an open mind. i hope you do check him out though because he's definitely one of my favorite artists of all time
10:43 AM on 10/16/13
#9
Spartan789013
I should be proper for a change
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there really isn't a good RIYL for him. he's incredibly unique and he's more of a sound artist and composer than a typical musician. his works are very abstract and structureless, so go in with an open mind. i hope you do check him out though because he's definitely one of my favorite artists of all time


Sounds like sound, gotcha. I'll definitely give it a listen since you are willing to drop the FAOAT line on it.
01:16 PM on 10/16/13
Archael
listens to good music
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wonderful album. probably in my top 10 but we'll see.
01:51 PM on 10/16/13
Chris Collum
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This is my favorite Hecker release at this point I think
04:09 PM on 10/16/13
StepsInADance
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yeah would probably put this among my favorite tim hecker albums, probably second only to harmony in ultraviolet. although i haven't listened to his first two albums in a while.
04:44 PM on 10/16/13
Jake Jenkins
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im not sure if any album ever tops ravedeath for me but if an album were to top that album it would probably be a tim hecker album
09:32 AM on 11/02/13
hotsoftlight
to here knows when
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stigmata II is so beautiful.
06:25 PM on 12/14/13
Deathco_019
I demand a trial by combat.
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Really really enjoyed this review, Jake. Great job with it. Really hit me with it, so now I'm checking out the album.
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