NEW ALBUM: TIDE, 04/2024, boomslang records
Who or what is Hilde? A person? An idea? A sound? A band? A combination of all these? In the search for Hilde, we come across singer Marie Daniels, violinist Julia Brüssel, trombonist Maria Trautmann and cellist Emily Wittbrodt in the middle of the Ruhr area. They met as part of the large collective The Dorf and, under the name of Hilde, made a name for themselves in 2020 with their first album, ‘Open’.
So much for history, as their new album ‘Tide’ is an outwardly fresh start, although the four band members would deny this and call it a logical continuation of the first album. But while on “Open” they were still rebelling wildly against the world and their surroundings, on “Tide” they are pulling on completely different strings. The uninhibited, unrestrained playing of their debut gives way to a clear commitment to beauty and lingering in the sound. Without losing touch with the present, they recall forms of singing and music-making whose traces go back to the Baroque and beyond to the Middle Ages, only to return via the arch of improvised chamber music to the vitality of contemporary pop music.
One of Hilde’s great strengths is her ability to find completely unexpected, sometimes downright daring links between abstract sonic invention and traditional grace. This rare gift is most evident in her live performances. At the same time, they never lose sight of their counterpart, the creative listener, with whom they maintain eye contact and respond intuitively.
Hilde – and this brings us back to the initial question – is always Hilde. It hardly matters who is responsible for which playful impulse, which tone colour, which composition or which spontaneous idea. Four musicians merge into one person, Hilde, an individual with four heads and eight arms, who confronts us with massive gentleness on “Tide”. The same goes for the whole arc of the album. Each song stands on its own, but the order is not arbitrary. Hilde is telling a story that needs to be heard from the first to the last note.
We like beautiful things,” Hilde exclaims in unison. For them, improvisation is an expression of freedom that excludes nothing and allows everything. What sounds like a matter of course is – as 60 years of freely improvised music soberingly show us – not at all. Beautiful sounds, melodiousness and song structures that invite you to sing along are not embarrassing slips of the tongue, but deliberate. The basis for this intuitive unity goes far beyond the much quoted mutual trust. It is based on a benevolent reliability that is seldom lived in this unbreakability, which gives each of the four musicians the feeling of security they need to be able to go to the extreme as Hilde and always reach the innermost – and vice versa.
The periodic table of the elements has 118 components to encompass the entire material reality of our planet. Listening to Hilde’s new album ‘Tide’, it takes the exact number of four elements – cello, violin, trombone and voice – to express the world in all its complexity. There is nothing Hilde cannot tell us, no angle and no thing that cannot be described with her music. Hilde evokes images in sound that are as visceral as they are emphatic, leading us through imagined memories to a new image of reality.
This is hardcore free music improv at its best: intense, focused, quick changing, challenging to the listeners and musicians alike and the excitement factor is up high. Vocalist Marie Daniels is particularly strong throughout, glad to hear her do her thing, cast her up there with Sainko, Iva Bittova & Catherine Jauniaux. What makes this disc so special is that all four members are equally strong, focused and intense improvisers. The interactions are often astonishing!
Bruce Lee Gallanter, DMG – New York City
Vibrating strings, air streams, and vocal cords are directly in confrontation with each other, providing a listening experience that touches the innermost on this bold quartet’s debut CD. The skills of these four musicians, all members of The Dorf & Umland collective, are spectacular and unite here in a collectively lived freedom.
Stefan Pieper, JazzZeitung – July 2020
Photos, Anna Sorgalla (Please double-click the photo)