Hilary Woods’ Birthmarks has been a labour of intensity and intuition, written over the broad course of two years. Recorded whilst heavily pregnant between Galway and Oslo in the winter of last year, Woods explores the selfhood within the societal change and evolves, obviously reflective on what is to come. Sultry and unassuming, there is much to unpeel from the initial listen of this album, which renders it a sheer delight to immerse into.
Hilary Woods resides in Dublin, the solo artist, previously a member of the alternative rock band JJ72, returned to music in 2014 with EP Night. After some time in fine art school and having studied literature and film in college, she came back to her talent, which saw not only Night but EP Heartbox in 2016; leading to her debut solo record Colt in 2018.
Birthmarks is a remarkable record that is heaped in darkness, it’s minimalism and mystique opens traumatic wounds, and drives us to difficult places. With song titles such as Tongues of Wild Boar, Lay Bare and Mud and Stones it seems like the perfect OST to Ozark personally. Sinister and demonic in parts, alluring and textural in others, with a curious sonic passage that opens doors that should perhaps remain closed. The eight tracks highlight darkness, beauty and and introspection.
Cinematically haunting, there is a discordant thread that runs through Birthmarks. Interestingly titled, this album is stunning for it’s unique elements and yet it dispells discomfort. Woods actually took her ideas and home recordings for this record to Norwegian experimental noise producer and filmmaker Lasse Marhaug, giving it a Scandinavian edge, the collaboration is distinctive. With a real variety of instruments and field recordings thrown into Birthmarks, there is much to unpack with this record.
Enigmatic, beguiling, intriguing, the sheer taste of this album has whet my appetite for more of Woods.
Birthmarks is out now, via Sacred Bones.