by Tiana Feng
Release Date: October 15th, 2013
Label: Paperbag Recorsd
When it comes to things described as “drone”, I usually preface with a *yawn* and am reluctant to listen. I reacted the same way to Tim Hecker and his music is not found anywhere else on the blog. It was after a fair bit of prodding from other music lovers that I finally gave him a chance. Virgins is my first exposure to Hecker and despite the “best new music labels” he’s been receiving, I haven’t read too much into the album. This is a review based on listens only, so I might not get all the supposed allusions it’s supposed to be based on.
Virgins begins with “Prism”. A sustained drone is held throughout as organs continue to crash at regular intervals and the tension builds. There’s something nerve racking in the way Hecker does it. It’s like watching a scary movie and wondering at every corner if the demon they are running away from will suddenly appear.
The unsteadiness only grows in “Virginal I”, clarinet squeaks mimicking screams. I actually looked up to see if my dog was okay. “Radiance” gives a moment of sunshine and sparkling high piano notes are juxtaposed by deep bass in the hypnotic “Live Room”. Just as beautiful is the clarinet filled “Live Room Out”.
My personal favourite is “Black Refraction”, which at first glance sounds like a piano solo. The sound of pedal depressing is purposely left in and contributes to the song as a rhythmic element. It also adds a certain rawness to the seemingly electronic album. “Incense at Abu Ghraib” has an unsteadiness that mimicks the dark events it was named after.
“Stab Variation echoes the album’s trance-like state in an almost danceable track. The song is goosebump inducing in tension that slowly dissipates into feedback noise for the album’s conclusion. Virgins shows there is a delicate method to Hecker’s madness.