As I continue to spread the gospel of “darkness is as heavy as metal,” this sermon shall focus on an album of haunting ballads. These songs invoke the spirits of inner space rather than from beyond the grave. Hilary Woods is a songstress who floats in a dream world. This paints a very Lynchian picture. This speaks to David Lynch’s artistry as much as Woods talent, because how many other filmmakers have imparted the sound of their films into the vernacular of the music world? I see Woods immersion into his world a testament to her love of all things dark and atmospheric. She doesn’t settle with just making the Black Lodge her mailing address and ventures out into a fey magical realm of the fey similar to the sonic space found in Treasure-era Cocteau Twins. Her arrangements employ a jazz like minimalism that takes you back to acid jazz of the 90s. More focused on melody than beats, the hip hop influence is replaced with neo-folk. The hypnotic piano riff on “Take Him In” an creates an entrancing drone with her tightly layered vocals hovering above it. The surreal folk side of her sound comes more to the forefront on “Kith.” Lyrically many of these songs are rather simplistic, but work for what she does.
The dream jazz returns for “Jesus Said”. The programmed drums lay the groundwork for more improvised piano parts to wander over. People might be quick to compare her to Marissa Nadler , however the only common ground is the fact they are both female singers who revel in atmosphere. Nadler has a country background , where Woods seems more rooted in cinematic jazz. “Black Rainbow” seems to draw influence from Angelo Badalamenti. The narcotic pulse anchors it. The vocals and the piano grow more detached for this and float off into their own ambiance. The album ends with “Limbs” which works off a pretty simple chord progression. This spectral minimalism, and slowly adds others textures of sounds. The songs are never cluttered, so the speculative vocals have room to breath as they wandered further into the forest at night. The song drifts deeper rather than hitting you with a big chorus.This song had a darkly soothing effect.
Hillary Wood will surely join the ranks of Marissa Nadler, Emma Ruth Rundle and Chelsea Wolfe, as sirens of the atmospheric land of shadows. There is not the “heavy” feeling I might get from the music of the other women, but I would not be surprised if I saw she was opening up for Russian Circles or Deafheaven as I can hear how her music might appeal to fans of post-rock. She is very dark without being goth, though not far removed from Cocteau Twins in some ways who became thought of as goth fathers. Fans of any genre that embrace emotive and shadow filled sounds could lose themselves in what is done here. This album grew on me with each listen to solidify it’s place in the crowded digital landscape of my iPod. This is being released on Sacred Bones June 8th.