Hildegard by Hildegard – Album Review
By Alex Hoggard
Hildegard is a collaboration between Canadian artists Helena Deland and Ourielle Auvé (Ouri). Their eponymous debut sees singer-songwriter Deland’s folk leanings meet Ouri’s electronic and dance background.
The pairing offer one of the more intriguing listens of 2021, fun and experimental, constantly gifting surprises to the listener. The eight tracks on the album were recorded over just eight days, as highlighted by the track listing – ‘Jour 1’ to ‘Jour 8’.
Kicking things off with their loudest offering, ‘Jour 1’ is a beat-laden dance number that could fill any dancefloor on a Saturday night. Although, any unsuspecting club owner may face a sudden evacuation with the addition of a commanding siren towards the end of the track. It is perhaps included to illustrate the beginning of their new collaborative partnership. The first part of the song is made up of driving electronic drumbeats and catchy dance hooks then, after the siren, the song breaks down into a frantic techno outro.
There is an immediate change of direction with ‘Jour 2’, a much quieter dream pop song which features a soft vocal blend between the duo over a gentle guitar line that occasionally breaks out into heavier chords.
Named after the 12th Century Saint Hildegard of Bingen, the pair take inspiration from the Saint’s ethereal compositions albeit while offering a more modern take on life. This is exemplified on ‘Jour 3’, a poppy number in which Deland seems to keep a summer romance at arm’s length over text message.
Ouri’s vocals take centre stage on ‘Jour 4’, with the repeated line “She just wanted to save some time” becoming almost hypnotic as it blends with the instrumentals.
‘Jour 5’ sees Deland’s soft vocals, driven on by a heavy bass beat, yearn for freedom. The song offers the most memorable chorus, “I’m about to give it some time/ You can take yours and I’ll take mine”, which is accompanied by the gentle plucking of a harp.
‘Jour 6’ offers a change of pace and is a relaxing instrumental of synth keys, perhaps let down by its length, at eighty-five seconds it leaves you wondering what direction it could have taken had it been longer. Although, it does prove to be an enjoyable lead-in to ‘Jour 7’, a song most notable for its marching drum beat throughout.
Final track ‘Jour 8’ sees Hildegard at their most aggressive, seemingly confronting an ex-lover with lines such as, “Can’t go on just saying what you want to” before giving them a brutal final dismissal “I don’t give a fu*k who you dream of”. As the song fades away the closing moments of the album are taken over by a chorus of birds twittering, perhaps to signify the dawning of an exciting new partnership. Hopefully, the sun is rising on a long-term venture for the Montreal pairing.