Let’s start by saying that nothing on this record felt forced or stewed over, the way it flows is absolutely stunning, sparse and will drag you out of your comfort zone directly to a gravity-defiance sound zone. Hilary Woods’ Birthmarks is the follow up to her brilliant 2018 effort Colt.
Recorded while Woods was heavenly pregnant in the Winter of 2019, Birthmarks is another exploratory and minimalist effort where she draws sounds of unassuming peacefulness with dark bursts of oscillating and unpredictable noises erupting like geysers within. It’s not easy to let yourself go, but when you realize you can’t fight it, the immersive and haunting atmosphere that surrounds the album will be just another doorway to Woods intimate andintrospective narrative.
As complex as it is elegant, Birthmarks is inspired by ideas of “inner transformation in the face of anxiety, post-war Japan, the secret life of trees, wolves, drone, the drawings of Francis Bacon, the images of Francesca Woodman or even the films of Chris Marker,” but what really stands out is the way all of these influences connect and match perfectly with the foggy and wild density of Woods sonic ambiguity, inherent to her visceral emotional growth and personal change.
If you are into Grouper, Zola Jesus and Marissa Nadler this new effort is mandatory for you. Birthmarks is more expansive and intense than Colt probably due to her collaborative work with Norwegian experimental noise master and filmmaker Lasse Marhaug. However, there’s something to be said about the loss of some Lynchian elements in her sound, let’s say that Colt was like season 1 and 2 of Twin Peaks, while Birthmarks is more like some episodes of season 3.