Tim Hecker – ‘Virgins’ LP [Kranky] (+ a lot on ‘Ravedeath, 1972’ LP)

When it finally clicked, the Ravedeath, 1972 LP hit me like sack of bricks…dropped from above cracking my skull that even before my head hit the curb, the blood and former two months of listening were spilling out. It was a belated but worthwhile introduction to the music of Tim Hecker, and out of LPs that I regularly play start to finish probably none has been played as much since.

After about eight-weeks of Paul banging on about Hecker (I had less faith in his tastes at the time) and various attempts at background listening, or listening to only pieces at a time, it took an extended bus journey due to the Northern line being down for it to finally fall in to place for me.

Hearing Ravedeath, 1972 from start to finish, with a desire to drown out the masses of annoyed commuters, unable to read due to a lack of seating it all made sense. Much like The Caretaker, to absorb Hecker’s composition is to be taken away to the headspace he set out to create. The builds and drops, distortion changes and raw sounding drone samples are structures done with unexpected tools that make for brilliant listening.

That’s the thing about Tim Hecker, it’s not music for cheap wins. His work should be appreciated like retirees examine the classical greats, with a total dedication in listening. Unfortunately however, the majority of us aren’t paid to listen to new music all day. Trust on this one though, grab a copy of Ravedeath, 1972 and the time you give it will be repaid plenty. Given time, everyone comes around to Tim Hecker.

There’s a new album out in about fortnight, once again on Kranky, which is especially reason for celebration as the man doesn’t rush his work. Virgins feels darker, more chaotic and busier in sound than Hecker’s earliest work. Maybe as an extension of his previous work things seem to have kicked up a notch towards drone composition, with the tracks layering as opposed to converting in to new sounds.

Interesting then, that this is the first album (to the best of our knowledge) that Hecker has recorded the source material using small ensembles of players. Across the thirteen tracks his digital manipulation and repetitive builds turn them in to something that is quite his own. The way the raw orchestral sounds constantly and unexpectedly interact with his distorted electronics give the tracks a feeling of living and breathing. At one stage it’s like the crashing grand piano has been swallowed by a sea of rack modules, sill their struggling for life but inevitably digested in to something else.

Definitely an album to get lost in, can’t wait to give this a listen on wax, which should be in shops across next weekend. Pick this up when it drops, bound to not last too long. Press release and a track from the album below.

via Kranky

Virgins was recorded during three periods in 2012, mostly in Reykjavik, Montreal and Seattle, using ensembles in live performance. The sound palette of this work is wider, almost ‘percussive’ and tighter sounding than previous works. While this album remains committed to a painterly form of musical abstraction, it is also a record of restrained composition recorded live primarily in intimate studio rooms. This record employs woodwinds, piano and synthesizers towards an effort at doing what digital music does not do naturally—making music that is out of time, out of tune and out of phase.

This follow-up to his Juno-awarded Ravedeath, 1972 album exchanges gristled distortion and cavernous sound in favour of a close, airy, more defined palette. At times it points to the theological aspirations of early minimalist music. But it is not ‘fake church music’ for a secular age, rather something like an attempt at the sound of frankincense in slow-motion, or of a pulsing, flickering fluorescence in the grotto. Some pieces go off the rails before forming into anything, others eschew crescendo compositional structures or bombastic density while going sideways instead.

It points to the ongoing development of Hecker’s work. It suggests illusory memories of drug- hazed jams or communal music performance that may have never been performed or been heard. These are mp3s that give confusing accounts either of sound’s glowing physicality or of its prismatic evasiveness. It is an offering of music into the void, a gift of digital filler between distractions. Yet hopefully it also stands as a document of the enduring faith in the narcotic, enigmatic function of music as long-form expression.

Mixed by Valgeir Sigurðsson and Tim Hecker. Additional assistance by Randall Dunn and Ben Frost. Mastered by Mandy Parnell at Black Saloon Studios in London, UK.