I`ll be honest. I`ve never liked JJ72 and the bland pop – rockish music they produced. The only thing of quality at JJ72 was Hilary Woods – a bass prodigy whose backing vocals brought some flesh to other wisely boring compositions. You could say she was the reason that yours truly gave the Irish trio some attention.
Woods left the band after two albums to raise her daughter and reinvent herself as an artist and musician. She studied film and literature. She painted and ventured into visual arts.
If you look at the early pictures of JJ72 you may see a timid, blonde teenage girl who looks a bit like an older sister to Jess Eastwood (Calva Louise). Fast forward to 2020 and things have changed considerably.
Hilary Woods has released two critically acclaimed EPs: “Night” (2014) and “Heartbox” (2016) and her debut album “Colt” is recognized as one of the most important albums of 2018. She is signed to a boutique Sacred Bones label with a booker and management team in place. Woods is also a multi instrumentalist (bass, guitar, piano, synths) and an artist. Unlike in JJ72 where she was denied any creative input, Woods now has absolute creative control over her music and she executes it with jaw dropping results.
Her new album “Birthmarks” comes out on 13th March and is being promoted by captivating and intense single “Tongues of Wild Boar”.
The range of influences used by Woods in her music is astonishing – from the paintings of Francis Bacon to photography of Francesca Woodman, from cinematography of Chris Marker to post-war Japanese and wet-plate photography.
Hilary Woods composed her new music over a period of two years using a range of synthesisers, cellos, saxophones, electronic devices, drums and even field recordings. She worked with experimental noise producer and filmmaker Lasse Marhaug while being heavily pregnant and amid frequent travels between Oslo and her home in Galway.
The final effect is quiet, dark and brooding. Haunting even. “Tongues of Wild Boar” offers a long industrial intro full of noise that precedes ethereal, soothing vocals – a perfect soundtrack to a David Lynch movie.
The single is backed up by a black and white video that shows the singer with erased eyes and a male figure pushing at invisible wall. I dare say that Hilary Woods beat Trent Reznor at his own game (see “How to Destroy Angels” with Mariqueen Maandig on vocals for reference).
The interest in “Birthmarks” is already huge with reviews in leading music blogs and magazines (The Clash, Fact Mag, Get in Her Ears) and over 6 000 views on the video that premiered on January 21st.
It seems 2020 will be a year of dark, gothic music. Be careful Bambara – you have a very strong contestant to the title of album of the year.
PS. Back in the days of wild west 90s music press, some stable genius at Melody Maker decided to call teenage Hilary Woods “the sexiest thing in rock and roll”. Shame that Melody Maker are no longer around, I`d love to see them take that misogynistic fart back and admit that Hilary Woods is inspiring, incredibly creative and a leading voice of music today.
Never undermine a female musician.
Malicia Dabrowicz (Vanadian Avenue)