Track Of The Day: Hilary Woods – ‘Orange Tree’

A tentative exploration of inner fears; Hilary Woods‘ latest single ‘Orange Tree’ is an atmospheric, brooding affair. Taken from her upcoming second album Birthmarks, set for release on 13th March via Sacred Bones, the Irish musician has crafted another dark, beguiling soundscape that smolders with quiet intensity.

Speaking about the new track, Woods explains: “For me, ‘Orange Tree’ is a personal song acknowledging an inner fear of the unknown. It’s an exercise in overcoming, becoming more planted and rooted in the earth and in the body.” Woods’ thoughts are reflected in the accompanying visuals for the track, which she created and directed with Joshua Wright.

Written & recorded over the course of two years between Galway and Oslo, whilst Woods was heavily pregnant, Birthmarks looks set to be her most personal and powerful record to date. Inspired by the works of Norwegian experimental noise producer & filmmaker Lasse Marhaug, the images from post-war Japanese and wet-plate photography, to the secret life of trees; Woods’ far-reaching influences are what make her art so mesmerising and transcendent.

Watch the video for ‘Orange Tree’ below, and follow Hilary Woods on Facebook & Spotify for more updates.

Hilary Woods EU/UK Live Dates 2020
April 19, Tilberg, NL @ Roadburn Festival
May 18, London, UK @ Cafe Oto

Photo credit: Joshua Wright

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Katie Gately – ‘Loom’

Both a piercing cry into the gulf of grief, and a collection of dark lullabies that provide momentary distraction from it; Katie Gately‘s second album Loom is a poignant ode to her late Mother, who she lost to cancer in 2018. Set for release via Houndstooth on 14th February, the electronic musician & producer has channelled her grief into eight new songs.

Gately created Loom in the aftermath of her Mother’s cancer diagnosis, thus giving the record it’s dark, melancholy, intensely sobering feel. She used real earthquake recordings in her productions; as well as samples of peacocks screaming, pill bottles shaking, and heavily processed audio from her parent’s wedding to reflect the void left by the loss.

Loom opens with the quiet, hypnotic ‘Ritual’. Layers of Gately’s beguiling vocals ring out over cautious electronics that gently rise and fall in time with her voice. The at times claustrophobic ‘Allay’ personifies the cancer that stole Gately’s Mother. Even without knowledge of this context, it’s still an unsettling listen, with its severe electronics and dense beats.

Inspired by Leonard Cohen – one of her Mother’s favourite artists – ‘Waltz’ is a haunting, powerful call to arms encouraging listeners to dance, even in the midst of overwhelming grief. Gately wrote it after listening to Cohen’s track ‘Take This Waltz’ on repeat for an entire day, resulting in five minutes of dark, energized sound. Following track ‘Bracer’ is a powerful, ten minute eerie epic. It’s also worth noting that it was Gately’s Mother’s favourite track on Loom. 

Along with ‘Waltz’, Gately describes these songs as being about the same thing: “They’re about being disoriented and wanting to check out with a substance. I used whisky.” Both tracks have a manic, kinetic quality; as if the whiskey that fuelled their formation is flowing through the veins of her listeners, encouraging them to perform a contorted dance to Gately’s soundscapes.

Much like opener ‘Ritual’, ‘Rite’ provides a few minutes of breathing space, before dense beats and a menacing blur of sounds on ‘Tower’ make the hairs on the back of the neck twitch. Here, Gately inhabits the medicine that confronts her Mother’s cancer. For the first four minutes, it’s abrasive and severe, but it switches for the final two; with Gately’s soothing vocals acting as a tonic to the toxicity.

The startling, cathartic sounds on penultimate track ‘Flow’ ring out for six powerful minutes. Written from the perspective of her Mother, this track is one of the strongest on the record. Final track ‘Rest’ is announced through Gately’s poignant vocals, closing an album that’s both shocking and soothing in equal measure.

Gately has said that the process of creating Loom is “blurry” to her now, perhaps repressing some of the darker, more desperate feelings that must have permeated it. Whilst her discomfort and grief are audible throughout the record, the fact she confronted her complex emotions proves she is both a genuinely talented musician, and an incredibly brave woman.

Pre-order Katie Gately’s new album Loom here.

Katie Gately UK Live Dates 2020
March 31 – Manchester – The White Hotel
April 1 – London – Cafe Oto (with support from Hinako Omori)

Photo Credit: Steve Gullick

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

LISTEN: Hilary Woods – ‘Tongues of Wild Boar’

A shadowy, captivating exploration of intense discomfort; Sacred Bones signee Hilary Woods has shared ‘Tongues of Wild Boar’, the first single lifted from her upcoming album Birthmarks, which is set for release on 13th March.

Though quiet in terms of volume, Woods’ new single is a fleshy, charged offering that allows her the space to navigate “emotionally charged states” at a pace suited to her. “It is a song deeply lodged in the body, that yearns to surface for air and escape its own shadow.” Woods explains, and the accompanying visuals she collaborated on with Joshua Wright beautifully reflect this.

Written over the course of two years, and recorded whilst heavily pregnant between Galway and Oslo in the winter of 2019, Birthmarks looks set to be Woods’ most personal and powerful record to date. Inspired by the works of Norwegian experimental noise producer & filmmaker Lasse Marhaug, the images from post-war Japanese and wet-plate photography, to the secret life of trees; Woods’ far-reaching influences are what make her art so beguiling and transcendent.

From its scratchy, dense opening, to its gentle blend of orchestral and electronic elements; ‘Tongues of Wild Boar’ is a primal, intuitive track that scars and soothes in equal measure. Watch the video below, and follow Hilary Woods on Facebook for more updates.

Pre-order Hilary Woods new album Birthmarks here.

Hilary Woods Live Dates 2020
19th April – Roadburn Festival, TILBERG NL
18th May – Cafe Oto, LONDON UK

Photo credit: Joshua Wright

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

FIVE FAVOURITES: Heather Gabel (HIDE)

Fine Artist and inimitable front woman Heather Gabel forms one half of Chicago-based electronic duo HIDE. Alongside percussionist Seth Sher, the pair create abrasive, industrial sounds and are renowned for their intense live performances. Their new album – Hell Is Here – was released earlier this year via Dais Records, and it seethes with their trademark fury against social injustice.

We think one of the best ways to get to know an artist is by asking what music inspired them to write in the first place. We caught up with Heather to ask her about her “Five Favourites” – five tracks/albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you catch HIDE live at The Shacklewell Arms (w/ Kontravoid) on 3rd October (event info here).

 

1. CRASS – ‘Reality Asylum’
This track slays in every way. Eve Libertine’s vocal delivery still gives me chills after having been listening to it for 25 years. I love that she isn’t singing. It’s a total assault on Christianity, noise and pure poetry, spat out with palpable contempt. I read that the record plant workers refused to press this track and instead left a three minute silence, so the band released it themselves as a single for 45p – half the going rate for a 45 at the time. I love so much about this band and ‘Reality Asylum’ sort of encapsulates all of the reasons why.

2. ANNIE ANXIETY – ‘Viet Not Mine, El Salvador Yours’
This song is so sad and heavy and scary. It plods and creaks and leers. It has the feel of sea sickness to me, like an inescapable situation you are just coming to grips with realizing is happening. The vocals are fucking wild; they layer, stifled, mocking, taunting, threatening, to create a real terrifying cacophony. The subject matter, violence against women/sexual assault, and makes the line “It’s not forever it’s not forever” sung frantic and childlike, ramping up and repeating, well, it’s especially horrifying. It’s such a powerful song.
Fun fact: Eve Libertine did the artwork for this record and the insert is a collage made of two pages from Kenneth Anger’s book Hollywood Babylon, which shows the trashed San Francisco hotel room where Fatty Arbuckle raped fellow actress Virginia Rappe to death in 1921.

3. BORN AGAINST – ‘Well Fed Fuck’
I love this band. They were one of the best political bands going when I was growing up. They were so fucking sassy about it though, like way smarter than other hardcore bands or whatever from the 90s in my opinion, they were antagonistic. We’ve covered this song a couple times, it’s sick to sing, there are hardly any lyrics and it repeats, like a mantra, which is a lot like how I write lyrics as well. It’s “are you a good team player, remember your boss is your best friend, remember the bullshit they taught you, kill your head” over and over. It’s really simple but totally exhilarating.

4. INK AND DAGGER – Drive this 7″ wooden dagger through my Philadelphia heart (Album)
I happened across this band by accident in the late 90s. I didn’t know who they were, but they were playing in one room and I was in the bar in the next room. I was like, what the fuck is going on out there, went to see and stood there with my mouth hanging open for the rest of their set. The singer was a total force, later I found out their reputation preceded them, they had infamously egged Hare Krishnas and threw yogurt at Earth Crisis for example, silly stuff in hindsight but it was refreshing to see a band that ripped and brought real energy wearing vampire make up and the shittiest fake blood ever bucking the tired east coast “hardcore tough guy shit” that was so popular back then. I could kind of see myself in them the way they didn’t fit the genre, having been (still am to be honest) someone who feels like they don’t fit in with any particular group of people.

5. Rudimentary Peni – Death Church (Album)
I bought this record in high school solely based on the artwork but quickly sought out all their albums after listening to it. I loved how short and raw the songs were, all direct pointed attacks on societies ails, but the record sounded exceptionally good. I used to always buy this when I saw it at the record store and have multiple copies to just give people who hadn’t heard it because it really made an impression on me. I still would if I ever saw it anymore.
Side note: It was especially cool when Chelsea Wolfe did a Tribute to Rudimentary Peni Covers EP on Southern in 2012.

HIDE UK Tour Dates 2019 
01/10 – UK Bristol Exchange
02/10 – UK Manchester Soup Kitchen
03/10 – UK London The Shacklewell Arms

Photo Credit: Nicola Kuperus

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

ALBUM: Chelsea Wolfe – ‘Birth Of Violence’

Poetic, intimate, and exquisitely melancholic; Chelsea Wolfe’s new album Birth Of Violence is a collection of instinctive songs galvanized by exhaustion, loneliness and doubt. Set for release on 13th September via Sargent House, the record is gentler on the ears compared to 2017’s LP Hiss Spun, but it still flows with Wolfe’s trademark macabre darkness.

Written and recorded in the solitude of her home in Northern California, Wolfe worked alongside longtime collaborator Ben Chisholm, and ongoing contributors Jess Gowrie (drums) and Ezra Buchla (viola) to create Birth Of Violence. This simple set-up has given her the freedom to create a record filled with understated, but poignant grandeur.

Vulnerable opener ‘The Mother Road’ centers around Wolfe’s voice and her revalatory lyrics. “Guess I needed someone to break me / Guess I needed someone to shake me up” she muses, prompted by large stretches of time spent on the road touring, which simultaneously bruised and heightened her consciousness as a songwriter. It bleeds in to the toxic yet seductive ‘American Darkness’, on which she broods “All my old ways have started kickin’ in / And my bad days are comin’ round again”. This urge to escape old habits and emerge from the shadows permeates the record.

“I’ve come to know what I need, I visualize while I bleed” reflects Wolfe on eponymous track ‘Birth Of Violence’, proving that clarity can be found even when one is at the peak of suffering. It’s followed by the moody ‘Deranged For Rock & Roll’ which smolders with smooth confidence. Powerful ambition is treated modestly on ‘Be All Things’, with its orchestral elements underscoring Wolfe’s beautiful howl throughout. The pensive ‘Erde’ is laced with fears about our poisoned planet – its final minute rising and falling like an anxious heartbeat.

The deliciously named ‘When Anger Turns To Honey’ dissolves any pre-existing angst or hostility, and is an aural elixir designed to transform states of emotion. Wolfe proves she is the “daughter of sorrow” across ‘Dirt Universe’ and the sparse ‘Little Grave’ which addresses the tragedy in the aftermath of a high school shooting. Her treatment of the social/political themes on Birth Of Violence is all the more devastating because of its subtlety. The contexts of both ‘Erde’ and ‘Little Grave’ only really become clear after repeated listens.

Despite the pensive, morose nature of the majority of the tracks on the album, there is an optimism in Wolfe’s realist approach to an ambiguous grief. On ‘Preface to a Dream Play’ she sings: “Everything is possible / Throw a spear in to the unknown” – displaying enviable bravery when faced with the metaphorical abyss. This continues on penultimate track ‘Highway’, her vocals meandering along an unknown stretch of road, accompanied by ominous, looping guitar.

Closing track ‘The Storm’ is a one minute audio of thunder and rain, perhaps signalling that the thunder clouds that overshadowed Wolfe prior to Birth Of Violence have now finally dispersed. “These songs came to me in a whirlwind” explains Wolfe about her new music, and what a turbulent, devastating whirlwind it must have been. It’s a privilege to be able to weather the storm with her.

Chelsea Wolfe’s Birth of Violence is released via Sargent House on 13th September. Pre-order your copy here.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

WATCH: SKYND – ‘Tyler Hadley’

Not for the faint hearted, industrial/electronic duo SKYND have shared their latest track ‘Tyler Hadley’, taken from their second EP Chapter II released earlier this year. Continuing in the tradition of most of their previous releases, the song is named after a psychopath, exploring their historic brutality through startling visuals and thumping beats.

Formed of SKYND (vocals) and “Father” (producer/multi-instrumentalist), the duo explain the premise of their new track further: “‘Tyler Hadley’ follows the story of a boy who killed both of his parents because he wanted to throw a party at his house. He developed the idea to kill his parents so he didn’t have to ask for permission anymore. He ended up having a party in the house that dead bodies were in, so it’s really creepy.”

Creepy is certainly an apt word for the context of SKYND’s songs, but the duo state they are here to serve as a reminder that “All human beings are capable of cruelty”. Their intense live performances aim to provide listeners with a different perspective, and to question what lies beneath the facade of normality.

Watch the video for ‘Tyler Hadley’ below and follow SKYND on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut

WATCH: HIDE – ‘Raw Dream’

**WARNING: Nudity & graphic content**

Brutal beats, abrasive synths and cutting vocals infiltrate HIDE‘s latest single ‘Raw Dream’, taken from their upcoming album Hell is Here, which is set for release on 23rd August via Dais Records.

Based in Chicago, HIDE are comprised of fine artist Gabel and percussionist Seth Sher. They describe their new single as “an anthem for the rise of the disenfranchised – a long overdue and joyous recalibration of an imbalance of power”. The track is accompanied by a video shot by Eon Mora, and edited by Christopher Michael Hefner and the band.

HIDE are renowned for their electric live performances, and dedication to channeling the voices of those who have been downtrodden, abused, or ignored. Their 2016 EP Black Flame was dedicated to the memory of Reyhana Jabbari – a 27 year old Iranian woman who was hung for allegedly killing someone who tried to rape her. Their 2017 debut album Castration Anxiety addresses issues of power dynamics and representation. Now, with ‘Raw Dream’ and their upcoming second album, the pair continue to transform vulnerability in to more powerful, distracting industrial tunes.

HIDE will be playing at The Shacklewell Arms on 3rd October, and we strongly recommend you grab a ticket before they sell out the venue. Watch ‘Raw Dream’ below and follow the band on Facebook for more updates.

Kate Crudgington
@KCBobCut