Tim Hecker

Virgins

By Vincent PollardAny work from Tim Hecker released in the afterglow of career-defining 2011 release Ravedeath, 1972 is going to understandably find itself under an intensified level of scrutiny. Heavy on the piano, in place of the church organ, Virgins retains the same ecclesiastical air and tectonic sub-bass rumblings as Ravedeath. Musically, it builds upon similar foundations, but there's something unsettlingly wild about Virgins. Looser and far less contained than its predecessor, the constant threat of collapse (or siege) is reinforced by the rising swells that threaten to overwhelm the suite at any second. Song titles such as "Incense at the Abu Ghraib" and "Stigmata," as well as the ominous cover art, make reference to the horrors of America's "war on terror," and with the album title, you can't help but think Hecker's referencing both the Islamic martyr's promise of 72 virgins and the tragic truncating of the life of young soldiers. Hecker's gift as a musician is his ability to build such high levels of tension by contrasting stomach-churning dissonance with a powerful emotive pull, coupled with intellectual stimulation, suggested by a handful of evocative titles, which, with Hecker, should always be taken with a grain of salt. This is an intense, unsettling work from the Canadian musician and if it doesn't quite reach the heights of Ravedeath, it's mostly down to Virgins lacking the fluid album arc of the former and not because the tracks are any less powerful.
(Paper Bag)
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