- Kaleidoscopic, leftfield pop from two exciting Montreal musicians.
- There's a touch of irony in naming this collaborative project between Montreal artists Helena Deland and Ourielle Auvé (AKA Ouri) after the 11th-century Saint Hildegard Of Bingen. While Deland and Auvé, working under the moniker Hildegard, channel the Saint's ecstatic spiritualism, Hildegard Of Bingen was also known for her religious monophonies (a song performed with only one instrument or voice, without accompaniment). The music on this record, while perhaps spiritual, is anything but. Look no further than opener "Jour 1," which starts with the thunderous pulse of EBM-style kick drums, a softened core of wispy pads and Deland's breathy reproaches to a lover, before a siren introduces a mind boggling techno breakdown. From "Jour 1" onwards, Hildegard introduces us to a record full of complex, shapeshifting pop songs always on the verge of bursting through the seams.
What makes the album so good is the disparate style both musicians bring to the table. Although the pairing was apparently suggested by the duo's managers, it feels organic and natural. Deland's album from last year, Someone New, approached singer-songwriter indie with the sensibility of someone who understands that the warm fuzz of effect pedals and drum machines are just as important as the lyrics. Auvé's hybrid takes on hip-hop, club and musique concrète are more dance floor-oriented, but are still built on the underlying structure of pop music.
No song here captures the symbiosis of Deland and Auvé's yin-and-yang better than "Jour 2." The track has elements that touch on Deland's forays into the world of folk, with a plucked guitar-line and some howl-at-the-moon chords towards the end. But these tastes of guitar-driven Americana only emerge in fits from behind the wall of looped vocals and sluggish hip-hop drums that Auvé keeps bringing in and out of time.
For the most part, it's Auvé's hip-hop and R&B rhythms that ground the record. But even with the bottom-heavy low-end, the influence of the duo's namesake keeps the high-end celestial. "Jour 5" bears more than a passing resemblance to Erika de Casier's Sensational (not to mention the Cassie-style monotone vocals), but Auvé lays a harp over the The Writing's On The Wall-era Destiny's Child beat, making it a completely different sort of beast. There's a little Low End Theory swagger to the beat on "Jour 4," but the song soars heavenward with its strings and stand-up bassline.
Hildegard tends to focus more on how Deland's voice can be used texturally rather than lyrically. That said, there are some killer lyrics. I can't stop humming the one-liner from "Jour 8" that seems like the perfect dust-off to an ex: "I don't give a fuck who you dream of." And there's a clever bit of wordplay on "Jour 3": "Bout to spend another night alone / You could always call me on the telephone / I'll speak to you the most sensitive words / I'll sound like a bird / Show you how to mate, love / Be better when we're making… love."
No matter if the pair are describing the summer romance of "Jour 3" or burning a past lover on "Jour 8," Hildegard is always fun and adventurous, with each producer bringing the best out of the other. Auvé has said as much in describing how the record "is all about female pleasure and also about healing." This sense of joy and redemption is the dominant mood across the record. Even the straight-laced piano and string sketch "Jour 6" hits a few odd notes, as if to remind us that this is music made from a place of spontaneity and pleasure.
01. Jour 1
02. Jour 2
03. Jour 3
04. Jour 4
05. Jour 5
06. Jour 6
07. Jour 7
08. Jour 8