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Country : Ireland Label : Sacred Bones Genres and styles : Ambient / Electronic / Experimental / Folk Year : 2020
Hilary Woods

Birthmarks

· by Geneviève Gendreau

Birthmarks is an introspective album of quiet strength and stunning sincerity. The whole thing proves to be an inner truth that one feels completely, and adheres to in an equally absolute way.

Woods’ voice is a pure and soft caress. Her precision and peaceful clarity in singing is accompanied by a solid musical and sonic exploration. Woods composed this opus over two years, and enlisted the services of Norwegian filmmaker and sound producer Lasse Marhaug. 

A background sound, sometimes noisy, and rocking rhythms can be heard. The cello and the scansion of the drums can be found on almost every piece. Percussion, saxophone, and xylophone are added here and there. This clarity in the elocution and the relative simplicity of the music does not in any way sacrifice a search for textures.

On “Lay Bare”, we find only solar vocals on a soft, noisy background. The result is truly transcendental. The darker “Cleansing Ritual” is imbued with a solemn gravity. The outcome of this introspective descent can be found on “There Is No Moon”, the final track. The piano is deep. The pizzicato cello throughout, as well as the whispered vocals, accentuate the intimacy. A short ascent, with more cacophonic sounds, closes the whole. The album thus forms a kind of slow waltz, a lullaby.

These expiatory pitches are fascinating in that they do not distil any pathos. Woods guides us far beyond her own journey through the mental and physical states of pregnancy, by taking us back to our own births, whatever they may be. A pronounced success.

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