Hildegard

Jun 03, 2021
Web Exclusive

By Mark Moody


Montreal artists Helena Deland and Ouri have teamed up to form the duo Hildegard. Named after and inspired by the twelfth century saint, Hildegard of Bingen, the modern day Hildegard share their forebear’s passion for music, language, and advancement of the feminine. The saint herself was quite beguiling in her ability to pierce the male dominated landscape of her day, claiming that her thoughts and words were not her own, but those of the Divine. Deland and Ouri, likewise, find a way to subtly straddle the line between the sacred and profane at will.

Recorded over the course of eight days (hence the song titling) in 2018, Deland takes on primary vocal and lyrical duties while Ouri’s background in electronic music and production comes to bear in the overall sound of the recording. Window rattling ultra-low bass notes dominate opening track “Jour 1,” and good portions of the album as well. These are interspersed with skittering beats reminiscent of Jamie xx’s solo work, with Deland weaving a nursery rhyme cadence through many of the songs. It sometimes makes for an unsettling tone, where the line between supplication in “Jour 1” (“you can have it”) and fierce independence in “Jour 8” (“I don’t give a fuck”), gets intentionally blurred.

The tonal juxtapositions between Ouri’s beats, laced with inner-spring tension, and Deland’s sing-song delivery are mirrored in the album’s themes. The contemplative “Jour 5” lays out Hildegard’s mission statement well, counterbalancing submission with freedom, and seduction with indifference. Deland soothingly croons, “I chase down my freedom, seduce it to submission, In spite of the temptation, I want some space.” A complex formula to be sure, pushed to an extreme on “Jour 3,” where Deland convinces her lover that a phone sex session will be “better than making love.” While the music pushes the anticipation to a languid close.

The rapturous electronics and coquettish vocals that envelop Hildegard’s debut may not have much in common with Saint Hildegard’s own musical works or her commitment to chastity, but one comparison is clear. Hildegard used her wiles to unseat the establishment of the day and take her spot amongst the anointed. Deland and Ouri also take full command of their scenarios (or days in this case), ripe with complexities, vagaries, and retracements that ensure only they know their intended outcome, with the ability to take liberties as they see fit. (www.hildegard.world)

Author rating: 7/10

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