Boomkat Product Review:
Working again alongside Norwegian noise deity Lasse Marhaug, Hilary Woods follows up 2020's incredible 'Birthmarks' album with a dense set of grim textures sculpted from orchestral strings and ethereal vocals. Like all Woods' work - it's pretty fucking special.
Woods assembled "Birthmarks" while she was heavily pregnant back in 2019 and considered her work in relation to anxiety and humanity. "Feral Hymns" arrives as a moody, transcendent follow-up and suggests a fresh artistic slate. Here, she allows herself to embrace the cavernous ambience that underpinned "Birthmarks" and impressed us so much on her 2020 contribution to our "Documenting Sound" series.
Her vocals are still present, just about, but almost completely buried beneath an orchestral mass of processed strings and crackling environmental recordings. On 'II', her voice is transformed into a resonant pad, humming beneath field recordings that sound like scraping footsteps or a fistful of pebbles tumbling down a well. Disintegrating, chattering voices appear and disappear as if captured by dictaphone, melting into her ritual drones.
'III' is more menacing, as Woods allows her stark strings to echo out on their own, before whispering resonant harmonies, building in radio static and ferric hiss. This is music for spaces in-between - for purgatory, not for hell - and Woods sounds as if she's channeling the spirits of Western religious music and Celtic traditional sounds simultaneously.