On his debut album, 2010's Swung From the Branches, Hildebrand focused more on loosely constructed dream-like sketches. But on his second full-length, Ontario Gothic, Hildebrand uses a recipe of warm arpeggiated synths, hushed vocals, strings and faint guitar jangle to produce ethereal pop collages.
Though mostly conceived on his own, Hildebrand's arrangements are bolstered by players from his Orchid Tapes label, not to mention friend Owen Pallett, whose string playing comes off as a little more conservative than his own solo work, but nonetheless sublime.
On "Into the Fields," the production swells with beatific vocals and a synth riff that trickles out of the mix to haunting effect. Pallett's violin evokes a Phil Spector-like teardrop on "Shadow's Song," dramatically accentuating Hildebrand's perfectly shaped lyric: "No strength to fight back the waves/ crashing tide's warm embrace."
Ontario Gothic is an album steeped in grief but designed to give the listener a warm embrace. Music can be therapeutic, and Hildebrand's music is a perfect example of this. (Orchid Tapes)