Tim Hecker’s latest release, Virgins, is characterized by unpredictable synthesizer work, spacious droning and organic instrumentation paired with jarring electronics. Hecker has constructed an album that comes together cleanly despite his mix of natural and unnatural sounds.
The primal side of Virgins first appears 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 throughout the final three tracks demonstrates Hecker’s expert harmony between organic and inorganic. The low-energy synthesizer swirls of “Stigmata I” break down into electronic minimalism after the transition to “Stigmata II,” which fades into relaxing ambiance and calming woodwinds. All of this culminates in the album’s closing track, “Stab Variation,” which is Hecker’s most integrated marriage of inorganic and organic instrumentation and atmosphere.
Hecker invokes connections with both the mind and body to deliver an intensely holistic performance, as the album balancing both the intellectual and primal experiences throughout. 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 both an ugly and gorgeous transcendent result.