Dublin native Hilary Woods' minimalist acumen is on resounding display here, this limited-edition blue vinyl (out on Sacred Bones) also showcasing her compositional finesse. Expect atmospheric instrumentation, dreamy vocals and gentle electronica, along with a generous helping of stark piano and lyrical poetry. A glorious listen.
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With a record from doom metal legends Thou on the horizon, I’m starting to think Sacred Bones are entering a troublesome teens era where they’re gonna start releasing beyond the remit of their embryonic goth rock. Ever glum, but in different shades, they’re continuing to confuse me with this gorgeous dream pop record by Hilary Woods. Using ambient sheen, deep-drop piano chords and unobtrusive drum machines, ‘Colt’ feels like one of their quietest, most melodic offerings, a soundscape of serenity wrapped in fear and hope.
Woods’ sound pallette is at odds with her voice, and it makes ‘Colt’ startling: her songs use synth, ghost drone backing vocals and sparse instrumentation against a production that makes them feel like the synthetic rendering of a natural twilit environment. Her voice, on the other hand, is loud and earthy, covering everything like someone talking into a fantastical video game world on a headset. It recalls the brilliant tone of Molly Nillson, albeit for a richer musical world. “Take Him In” uses gorgeous plucks against shimmering synth in a remarkable mix of foreground and background. Her vocal, here, lies in middle, a shouted whisper that makes her mix of Phil Collins’ instrumentation and super dark ambient sound off as a triumph.
‘Colt’ is best like this: when it mixes its unabashed baroque sound in with the darkness, offering melodic shmaltz to the void of chrome. With its wandering bassline and miasmic keys, “Jesus Said” captures the aesthetic of Julia Holter, nearly one-upping it with its pop song drone. The more I listen to this one, the more I’m convinced it’s one of the best things Sacred Bones have ever given us: 'Colt' is Hilary Woods' own world.
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