The Year Past and Ahead
In October last, I was at a Russian Circles gig in Galway. It gave me a much needed stark reminder of the power of live sound: washing over me, enveloping, reverberating my insides, shaking me out of an internal slumber. Requiring a medium to travel, the body is a conductor for sound. Filtering vibrations moving through it. Sound percolating in time through tissue and sinew, connecting, evading, resonating, confronting, decoding, making pliable.
I emerged from the show a renewed being: sensorially realigned, perceiving things afresh, and happy I made the effort to go. As Rumi says, ‘whatever purifies you is the right path’. It reminded me also of my love for sonically-heavier music.
Through the course of writing my new record last year I studied analogue photographic processes in London. This was an enlightening experience – awakening, purifying, and sustaining. Conversations with Lasse (Marhaug) who produced the album, opened up with us bouncing ideas on developing bath times, film grain, and Japanese post-war photographic processes resulting in layered, high-contrast, noisy, black-and-white imagery.
I was keen to achieve sonic textures on the record similar to those I was exploring in the darkroom. In this way, my journeys in both music and visuals over the past year intertwined and mirrored elements of each another.
During a year largely spent playing catch-up and quietly rejuvenating, another formative experience was my artist residency at CAMP in the Pyrenees, France in the summer. The opportunity to work and nurture friendships with a host of positive and inspirational people – performance artists, sound artists, composers, musical thinkers, electronic producers, creators, actors, poets, playwrights and visual artists – was a pure gift.
At high altitude we shared studio space and meals every evening, helped with each other’s projects as we listened or gave feedback, enjoyed walks and endured the heat, watched films, and shared equipment. It was a welcome respite, having worked on writing my new album in solitude up to that point for about eight months. Much of life as a solo artist is solitary, from writing to touring to persevering with it all, so it is a joy when golden social connections are cultivated beyond that space.
I look forward to the year ahead although it will have a ferocious pace in comparison to its predecessor, with my record due for release in spring. It will feel good to share it. There is always an element of embracing the fear when releasing anything and of learning new ways to live with the vulnerability of doing so. I feel proud of the work I achieved with others in piecing it together, and the giant steps this record required me to take in its writing.
Hilary plays Roadburn Festival, Netherlands on 19 April 2020 with more dates to be announced shortly.
For further information about Hilary’s work visit her website: http://www.hilarywoods.com
Photo credit: Joshua Wright