Sasha Masakowski and Cliff Hines don't sacrifice their chops or songs for music that seemingly reflects all their musical interests.

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Cliff Hines and Sasha Masakowski of Hildegard

Genre-defying music often feels forced, or it comes with the nagging suspicion that trade-offs were made, and not for the better. With Hildegard, it seems like Sasha Masakowski and Cliff Hines have made an effort to fold as much music that they like as possible into one project. They specifically explore the place where jazz, prog rock, and EDM meet with Hildegard, but other influences subtly show up as well.

Masakowski hasn’t abandoned the bossa nova, but on “Cabin 72,” she and Hines find a more contemporary expression of it, using gentle synths to enhance her tangible sense of longing. The delicacy of “Cabin 72” and “Isolation” are balanced with some heavy, riff-oriented passages that recall ‘70s prog rock minus the hobbits and pomposity. Some of those heavy passages land, some don’t, but they’re part of a rich sonic tapestry on an album that overflows with ideas. 

We’re pleased to present the debut of the Kate Bush-like “Sally Brown,” a good introduction to Hildegard with its musical ambition and attention to sonic details. Masakowski and Hines’ musical chops are clearly in evidence, but they’re intelligently, artfully deployed, with a stack of wordless voices feeding into a mellotron-like keyboard part that seems to turn the voices electronic. The song dictates their choices, so that technical passages and hammered moments all support Masakowski’s lyric, which includes the arresting reminder, “Not a single girl / wants to leave this world.”

Tonight Hildegard will play a CD-release party at Gasa Gasa with TYSSON, and Masakowski will perform at Jazz Fest Friday at 3:45 p.m. on the Lagniappe Stage.