In the music of Montreal upstarts Ouri and Helena Deland, the mere idea of transformation can create a thrill of excitement. On the title song of his radiant album Someone new, Deland wondered if kissing someone new or even imagine kissing someone new – might be enough to trigger a transformation in yourself. Ouri, meanwhile, has spent the last few years using ambient pop and rich, warm-blooded techno to question how experiences of emigration and falling in love reshape identity over time. Earlier this year, discussing her mobilegirl collaboration “Too Fast No Pain”, she described the exhilarating feeling of “los[ing] your identity for the better ”: Remembering her move to Montreal, she said,“ I could be anything. I destroyed my sense of myself for a while.
There is limitless potential in this kind of “what if?” Thought, and this manifests in both the music of Deland, which cuts through the static buzz of electronics and drones as well as indie folk, and that of Ouri, which draws so much inspiration from his experience as a cellist and harpist as conventions of dance music viscerally embodied. . Hildegard, the duo’s first collaborative album, develops this potential, drawing inspiration from a number of “What if”: what if we did it on the phone without ever having to touch each other? What if life alone could be as fulfilling and romantic as living with someone else? And, in the bones of the project itself: What if Hildegard Weren’t they halfway between the art of Deland and that of Ouri, but an entirely separate entity, channeling impulses different from those of their respective solo work and producing an entirely different result?
It is this last question that creates Hildegardthe most indelible moments. Like a slightly less austere twin of Jenny Hval and Håvard Volden Menneskekollektivet, released earlier this year, Hildegard feels like an opportunity for Deland and Ouri to consider the freedom that a musical union offers. Although Deland sings most often, Ouri’s voice is almost always present, and after a while their voices merge into each other; by the arrival of “Day 8”, the last track of the album, hard and precisely angry, Hildegard is her own person, calm and all-powerful as, over a hazy, electronic buzz, she delivers farewell words to a lover: “I don’t care who you dream of.” Hildegardthe eight tracks of s were recorded over eight days, and their sequencing involves a timeline, from “Day 1” to “Day 8”; you can follow Deland and Ouri’s growing connection throughout the album, with “Day 8” representing something close to pure creative symbiosis.
On “Day 3” the album’s highlight, shy and singing, Deland and Ouri play id and ego, struggling to figure out how to interact with an object of desire. As Ouri vocalizes an unbridled impulse (“I just wanted to ask you, how was your day!”, She shouts, as if to give voice to an exasperated text, before muttering “I’m waiting for you” , like another SMS sent a few hours and a few drinks later) Deland offers sweet and poetic words: “I will speak to you / In the most sensitive words / And it will sound like a purr / Show what I’m made of / Be better than making love. ” Someone new took place in tense and fractured rooms, populated by antagonistic and narcissistic men. Here Deland has the opportunity to be amorous and mischievous, the fantastical elements of this courtship allowing her to adopt another appearance for a night out.
Ouri, too, seems liberated by the opportunity to inhabit a new creative outlet: on “Day 4”, on which she sings lead, the fundamentals of her solo music – strings, her vaporous voice, unsettling sound design – appear. in surprising formations. . Where his classical training is often deployed to assist ambient experiments, the strings here play a more traditional role, bringing pathos and cinematographic splendor; in turn, his voice is immediate and prominent. Hildegard is the first project that Ouri has mixed and mastered in its entirety, and this top-down involvement shines through in the music, which is filled with unique moving parts – harp, rhythms that sound like barefoot crunching on dry sand, the squeak of a low, office chair that destroys the speakers, kicked like a block of wood, but never feels busy or fuzzy.
Although elements of Deland and Ouri’s solo practices unmistakably stand out on Hildegardas a whole it looks like a remarkably realized whole, as opposed to a certain Frankenstein of styles and ideologies. By the time “Day 8” has run its course, you wonder what the collaboration might look like if they had pushed it back to 10 or 14 days. However, as it is, Hildegard is a satisfying and invigorating document, the mark not only of instinctive collaboration, but of complete transformation.
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