Hilton’s masterful ability to mix disparate musical ingredients was well established during his 25-year tenure as co- founder of the legendary genre-hopping downtempo electronic music act Thievery Corporation. But in his newfound solo work, the artist has crafted a sonic universe uniquely his own.
Ceremony is the 3rd solo record Hilton has released during the past year, a period of prolific awakening for the veteran musician and producer, which the album title alludes to. “Ceremony acknowledges the exercise of sitting alone to draw musical vibrations from the ether, which I do on a regular basis,” says Hilton. “It’s the most centering, grounding thing I do, and I didn’t really do it until I became a solo artist. Now I’m hooked. Interpreting life experiences, consciousness, and putting that into a musical form – that’s the ceremony.”
Hilton moved house from D.C. to a more rural setting prior to the making of Ceremony, and the bucolic surroundings had a definite influence on the writing process for this album. “Being in nature brought more of an ‘ambient’ aspect into this record – I like certain aspects of ambient music,” said the artist. “But Ceremony grooves far too purposefully to be mistaken for anything like a traditional ‘ambient record’, so those aspects manifest themselves here as an intelligent spaciousness within which the songs exist.”
While Ceremony was birthed in the wilds of Maryland, sonically the boundaries of this record seem to exist outside the earth’s atmosphere. With track titles like “Particles”, “Forming Star”, “Adrift”, and “Fade into Forever”, it’s easy to imagine Hilton as the lone passenger tripping on some giant starship, looking through the viewscreen and jamming along on his bass while stars are born or die. An acoustic guitar solo brings the album’s title track to an elegant pause before building the song back up again – a moment Hilton calls “pure 1970’s rock”. And on “Who Are You?” (one of the first singles), crystalline melodies intertwine like near misses in an asteroid field. Needle dropping, the songs work as individual episodes drawn from an epic cosmic journey.
But no matter how deep into space Ceremony brings the listener, they will never feel cold or alone in the void. There is warmth and humanity in this music, which can surely be mapped to Hilton’s deeply personal composition process. “Creativity is always purely personal. I’m a big believer in artists only making art for themselves, I find it dangerous when you start thinking too much about what the listener might like,” said the composer. “You have to start with yourself if you want to effect other people. I remind myself, why am I doing this? Because I love it.” And a key to Eric Hilton’s newly prodigious output is knowing when a project is finished. His advice to aspiring creatives? “There are a thousand good ways to do something, and a thousand bad ways – so just choose one of the good ways. The point is not perfection, it’s to express something and then move on to the next thing. Don’t polish your Fabergé egg for the rest of your life….make more of them!”
Having tackled primarily instrumental music on his first three solo records – Infinite Everywhere, The Impossible Silence and his newest album Ceremony, Eric Hilton will next release a collaborative project with guest vocalists and musicians, likely before the end of 2021.
Enter the groove nebula – join Eric Hilton’s Ceremony, out August 20th on Montserrat House Music.