Hilary Woods - Tongues of Wild Boar (Official Music Video)
From 'Birthmarks,' out March 13, 2020.
Concept and Direction: Hilary Woods.
Made by Hilary Woods and Joshua Wright.
Featuring Justine Cooper and Neasán Ó Conghaile.
Hilary Woods’ Birthmarks has been a labor of intensity and intuition, written over the course of two years. Recorded whilst heavily pregnant between Galway and Oslo in the winter of 2019, Woods explores the oscillating and volatile processes of selfhood and becoming, hidden gestational growth, and the birthing of the Self, amidst continuous social and personal change.
Birthmarks is a record that hunts for ways in which to revisit and caress wounds left by the memory of their scars. In its mystery and attentiveness to the art of alchemy and the world of the unseen, it is a journey through textural fog and feral density that gives way to passages of voracious sonic exorcism and poetic healing. Its eight songs traverse planes of visceral physicality, stark tender space, and breathtaking introspective beauty.
Spurred on and crafted by the impulse to create a more corporeal sonic tendon for her songs to inhabit, Woods took her vision and home recordings to Norwegian experimental noise producer and filmmaker Lasse Marhaug. The collaboration proved rare and fruitful and lies at the heart of this record. Field recordings, analogue bass synthesizers, hushed vocals, and the breath are underpinned with heavy noise processing, fierce and wide cello, rich percussion, sable saxophone, and electronics.
Birthmarks is inspired and informed by ideas of inner transmutation in the face of anxiety, post-war Japanese and wet-plate photography, early music, the secret life of trees, wolves, drone, the drawings of Francis Bacon, the images of Francesca Woodman, the films of Chris Marker, the experiential collapse of community, and the power of the lone human voice. It is a deeply powerful and enigmatic record that ultimately transcends its disquiet roots.
Taking inspiration from filmmakers, electronic artists, and folksingers alike, Hilary Woods crafts intimate, nocturnal keyboard-based songs as a solo artist. After scoring two Top 20 albums as the bassist for Irish indie rock band JJ72 in the early 2000s, she quit the music business, re-emerging in 2014 with her gentler soundscapes. Woods made her full-length solo debut with Colt in 2018.
A native of Dublin, Woods was raised in a musical environment, with parents who played classical, folk, and rock LPs in the home, and who encouraged her and her brother to play instruments. Hilary's main instrument was the piano.
In the late '90s, the then-18-year-old joined singer/guitarist Mark Greaney and drummer Fergal Matthews in their band JJ72 as bass player. The indie rock group soon signed with Sony imprint Lakota Records and had two Top 20 albums in the U.K. and Ireland with their 2000 eponymous debut and 2002's I to Sky. After four years of persistent touring, Woods left the band -- and the music industry – in 2002. A year later, she started a family.
Woods took some college courses while raising her daughter, and felt her creativity sparked by filmmakers, including Wong Kar-wai and Chris Marker, who she was exposed to in school. She eventually felt compelled to write music again, and began listening to more music, including the electronic works of Jon Hopkins and Vincent Gallo. Woods re-emerged in 2014 with a set of hushed acoustic songs on the EP Night. She started touring again and followed it in 2016 with the lusher but still gentle Heartbox, which also incorporated spacy keys. Woods expanded on that EP's eerie electronic-acoustic atmosphere on her full-length solo debut, Colt. It was released by Sacred Bones Records in 2018.