Album: Hildegard – Hildegard review

by Philip Moss

An experiment in collaboration as much as it is an exploration of sound: two years before the phrase ‘lockdown’ entered our vocabulary, Helena Deland and Ourielle Auvé aka Ouri spent eight days together holed up in a studio together – their focus being to create a body of work that would document their time spent together 

The restrain of Jour 1’s cold percussion and Deland’s spoken word introduction makes FKA Twigs’ LP1 an obvious sonic comparison. But despite the drive that comes from its mechanical beat, there is also space – an airiness that rubs up against the robotic. It’s also measured. The synth stabs that run through the middle of the arrangement, before their untangling, are momentary, but their brief soiree is addictive – a word that could be used to summarise Hildegard in its entirety. 

The compositions that make up the collection are rooted in feel. Ouri’s work released under her own name is electronic, but despite her taking principle control of the tracks around which Deland constructed her melodies, there is no pre-determined aesthetic. The mood of the day. The feel of the moment. It all fed into the songs that were worked on one day at a time. At times, Deland’s voice gets lost like a friend’s voice on a claustrophobic dance floor; at others, such as on Jour 5, Ouri steps back completely, and Deland’s voice takes centre stage – joined only by the twinkling of harps and softer percussion. While reminiscent of Grouper’s Ruins, the brief interlude of Jour 6 is where Ouri’s soundscape sounds most human – before fizzing off into Jour 7 – the record’s most upbeat cut. 

As two forward thinking visionaries, that the Deland and Auvé take their name from 12th century polymath, Hildegard of Bingen, makes total sense. And such is the eclecticism of this coming together that despite stating that this is only the start of their journey together – the directions that they could head in next are anyone’s guess.

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