Helena Deland and Ouri Are Patron Saints of Experimental Pop on Hildegard's Self-Titled Debut
Published Jun 01, 2021It is an incredible opportunity to witness the creation of supergroups within the music scene. Members bring their forces and creativity together to create an enhanced experience for their fans, but also to explore their music further, pushing their own boundaries. In 2018, guitar pop singer-songwriter Helena Deland and electronic experimentalist Ouri presented their collaborative project Hildegard at Pop Montréal, which was brimming with promise. The Montreal duo's long-awaited, self-titled debut album is a fascinating excursion into both of their worlds and beyond.
The songs are titled in homage to the eight-day recording session that birthed the album, and from opener "Jour 1" to closer "Jour 8," emotions are raw and vivid. Deland and Ouri begin on a high with the club-like "Jour 1," showcasing Ouri's tantalizing electronic production. Ouri shines throughout the album both with her beats and her voice, which has a soft, particular tone that balances out Deland's signature rasp. "Jour 4" is a pure display of Ouri's distinctive vocals; seductive and strong, it joins the instruments in symbiosis, a weapon that is not used often enough on Hildegard.
As for Deland, her voice is at the forefront of the album, embracing all elements while changing to suit the different songs. While "Jour 5" sounds most like her folk-poppy back catalogue, she takes more chances on the deep and husky "Jour 3" and on "Jour 4," where Ouri's experimental sounds perfectly suit Deland's voice.
On Hildegard, Deland and Ouri come together as one, their identities fusing into an entity that embodies the best they both have to offer and then some. The album pays tribute to its namesake, 12th-century nun Hildegard von Bingen, a woman of science, music and spirituality. Deland and Ouri, fittingly, have become music mystics, patron saints of experimental pop. Hildegard is not Deland or Ouri's usual work — the album finds them escaping their typical sounds, as exemplified on closer "Jour 8," an offbeat tour de force.
Hildegard lives up to the hype of the collaboration's 2018 festival debut. Rare are projects that push the boundaries of both of the parties involved. Deland and Ouri make each other better. They enter a particular synergy, close to something transcendental and spiritual, enough to turn any listener into a devout follower praying for a follow-up. (Chivi Chivi)