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Hilary Woods|Acts of Light

Acts of Light

Hilary Woods

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Irish musician Hilary Woods has been a bassist in a 2000s indie-rock band (JJ72), a dream-folk artist and, most recently, an experimental composer. With her fourth LP, she reaches down into impressively murky depths for instrumental synth-and-string soundscapes compositions that sound at once solemn and wild, ancient and unknown. A fugue made up of nine dirges, Acts of Light is described as a "disquiet personal offering to wilderness, loss, absence, mystery and love supreme." There is an old church-like building in the suburbs of Oslo, Norway, that houses the mausoleum of artist Emanuel Vigeland; its windows are bricked over so the interior is black save for small, low spotlights—a disorienting experience. As your eyes begin to adjust, you can make out bits of the paintings on the wall: humans experiencing the life cycle on earth but also an underground that holds the souls of those who have passed or maybe never made it to the surface. This sanctum is completely silent. But if it had a sound, it would be something like "Burial Rites"—immersive, mossy, Gothic with a capital G. A bio for the album details drone, viola, the double bass of Jo Berger Myhre, cello played by Kaja Fjellberg Pettersen, and synth and piano from Francesco Turrisi (who won a Best Folk Album Grammy for They’re Calling Me Home with Rhiannon Giddens). Also detailed are field recordings, sacred chant and "noise"; that simple word is the best way to describe some of the most indecipherable moments. "Wife Mother Lover Crow" features fragments of what sounds like tinny old radio and a skittering drain. More than anything, it’s a constant pressure. Ghostly, vibrating "Where the Bough Has Broken" is an out-of-body sound bath, with otherworldly voices trying to pierce the veil. Driven by a siren call, "Acts of Light" obscures a conversation you can never quite make out; it is true drone, vowing to be unmoving against other forces. Hypnotic "The Foot of Love" is perhaps the most maddening track—an unrelenting drone, only momentarily broken by brighter, more metallic sounds. "Vigil," for its name, feels surprisingly urbane, like the hustle and bustle of city traffic at peak rush hour. Mystical "Awakening" boasts something that sounds like a fog horn meets a squeezebox. It’s almost friendly in context. "Blood Orange," meanwhile, is a thrumming motor of life, teeming with creature sounds and then a clang—a slamming door, footsteps: escape? © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz

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Acts of Light

Hilary Woods

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1
Burial Rites
00:02:47

Jo Berger Myhre, AssociatedPerformer - Kaja Fjellberg Pettersen, AssociatedPerformer - Hilary Woods, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Francesco Turrisi, AssociatedPerformer

2023 Sacred Bones Records 2023 Hilary Woods under exclusive license to Sacred Bones Records

2
Wife Mother Lover Crow
00:03:25

Jo Berger Myhre, AssociatedPerformer - Kaja Fjellberg Pettersen, AssociatedPerformer - Hilary Woods, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Francesco Turrisi, AssociatedPerformer

2023 Sacred Bones Records 2023 Hilary Woods under exclusive license to Sacred Bones Records

3
Where The Bough Has Broken
00:05:03

Jo Berger Myhre, AssociatedPerformer - Kaja Fjellberg Pettersen, AssociatedPerformer - Hilary Woods, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Francesco Turrisi, AssociatedPerformer

2023 Sacred Bones Records 2023 Hilary Woods under exclusive license to Sacred Bones Records

4
Acts of Light
00:03:54

Jo Berger Myhre, AssociatedPerformer - Kaja Fjellberg Pettersen, AssociatedPerformer - Hilary Woods, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Francesco Turrisi, AssociatedPerformer

2023 Sacred Bones Records 2023 Hilary Woods under exclusive license to Sacred Bones Records

5
Ochre
00:02:30

Jo Berger Myhre, AssociatedPerformer - Kaja Fjellberg Pettersen, AssociatedPerformer - Hilary Woods, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Francesco Turrisi, AssociatedPerformer

2023 Sacred Bones Records 2023 Hilary Woods under exclusive license to Sacred Bones Records

6
Awakening
00:02:49

Jo Berger Myhre, AssociatedPerformer - Kaja Fjellberg Pettersen, AssociatedPerformer - Hilary Woods, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Francesco Turrisi, AssociatedPerformer

2023 Sacred Bones Records 2023 Hilary Woods under exclusive license to Sacred Bones Records

7
Blood Orange
00:04:28

Jo Berger Myhre, AssociatedPerformer - Kaja Fjellberg Pettersen, AssociatedPerformer - Hilary Woods, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Francesco Turrisi, AssociatedPerformer

2023 Sacred Bones Records 2023 Hilary Woods under exclusive license to Sacred Bones Records

8
The Foot of Love
00:02:51

Jo Berger Myhre, AssociatedPerformer - Kaja Fjellberg Pettersen, AssociatedPerformer - Hilary Woods, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Francesco Turrisi, AssociatedPerformer

2023 Sacred Bones Records 2023 Hilary Woods under exclusive license to Sacred Bones Records

9
Vigil
00:03:26

Jo Berger Myhre, AssociatedPerformer - Kaja Fjellberg Pettersen, AssociatedPerformer - Hilary Woods, Producer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Francesco Turrisi, AssociatedPerformer

2023 Sacred Bones Records 2023 Hilary Woods under exclusive license to Sacred Bones Records

Album review

Irish musician Hilary Woods has been a bassist in a 2000s indie-rock band (JJ72), a dream-folk artist and, most recently, an experimental composer. With her fourth LP, she reaches down into impressively murky depths for instrumental synth-and-string soundscapes compositions that sound at once solemn and wild, ancient and unknown. A fugue made up of nine dirges, Acts of Light is described as a "disquiet personal offering to wilderness, loss, absence, mystery and love supreme." There is an old church-like building in the suburbs of Oslo, Norway, that houses the mausoleum of artist Emanuel Vigeland; its windows are bricked over so the interior is black save for small, low spotlights—a disorienting experience. As your eyes begin to adjust, you can make out bits of the paintings on the wall: humans experiencing the life cycle on earth but also an underground that holds the souls of those who have passed or maybe never made it to the surface. This sanctum is completely silent. But if it had a sound, it would be something like "Burial Rites"—immersive, mossy, Gothic with a capital G. A bio for the album details drone, viola, the double bass of Jo Berger Myhre, cello played by Kaja Fjellberg Pettersen, and synth and piano from Francesco Turrisi (who won a Best Folk Album Grammy for They’re Calling Me Home with Rhiannon Giddens). Also detailed are field recordings, sacred chant and "noise"; that simple word is the best way to describe some of the most indecipherable moments. "Wife Mother Lover Crow" features fragments of what sounds like tinny old radio and a skittering drain. More than anything, it’s a constant pressure. Ghostly, vibrating "Where the Bough Has Broken" is an out-of-body sound bath, with otherworldly voices trying to pierce the veil. Driven by a siren call, "Acts of Light" obscures a conversation you can never quite make out; it is true drone, vowing to be unmoving against other forces. Hypnotic "The Foot of Love" is perhaps the most maddening track—an unrelenting drone, only momentarily broken by brighter, more metallic sounds. "Vigil," for its name, feels surprisingly urbane, like the hustle and bustle of city traffic at peak rush hour. Mystical "Awakening" boasts something that sounds like a fog horn meets a squeezebox. It’s almost friendly in context. "Blood Orange," meanwhile, is a thrumming motor of life, teeming with creature sounds and then a clang—a slamming door, footsteps: escape? © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz

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