The Knockbain Road

Hilary de Vries is a Scottish composer and musician who is deeply immersed in the landscape of her native land, never more so than on The Knockbain Road. This album is, to say the least, stark. There are twenty seven original tracks, mostly very short, played on wire-strung harp accompanied by the sounds of nature.


Essentially this is musical impressionism with Hilary capturing the light and shade of what she sees and leaving us to fill in the details for ourselves.

The Knockbain Road is a record I'd listen to late at night with the lights down low and a glass of something special in my hand, making sure not to spill any as I drifted into sleep.


Dai Jeffries, RnR magazine


'Essentially this is musical impressionism'

Cherry Blossom After Rain

'a gentle recording that employs subtlety to great effect'

Hilary de Vries is a name that will be recognised by many members of the Wire Branch. Her new CD The Knockbain Road has recently been issued...It's a gentle recording, which employs subtlety to great effect. Hilary uses a brass-strung Pictish harp made by Ardival Haprs, and is sometimes joined by sparrows gathering in the trees around her while recording outside. The quality of the recording is clear and vibrant.

Although she composed the pieces as each being separate, I had the impression of the CD as being a single, extended poem with many verses. It's a soothing recording to hear during times of trouble.


Bill Taylor, The Wire Branch of the Clarsach Society


'Sometimes beauty comes in unexpected guises'

Sometimes beauty comes in unescpected guises. Here are twenty four tunes that fall as soft as light, as sharp as starts, as soothing as endless skies. A kind of meditational caress that touches all seven chakras.For debut CD Cherry Blossom After Rain she uses the catalyst of ideas ignited by Robert MacLean, a Canadian poet, but filtered through Japanese themes, with titles such as 'In the Light of the White Sun', 'The Stocks Returning' and 'The Inbetween of Everything',

played solo with stately poise and delicacy, on wire-strung Celtic harp.She plays it with her own voice, in ice and silver. And in a New Age-y, mindfulness kind of way, this unique choreography of blossoms can be entrancing.


Andrew Darlington, RnR Magazine


'a hypnotic atmosphere'

I thoroughly enjoyed this excursion into the world of the wire strung harp or clarsach. The more so because it works on so many levels. For a long time I have been interested in the subject of 'Just intonation' so I was intrigued to find that Hilary tunes her harp in the Pythagorean mode. For those who don't know, this means that the harp is tuned in a system of stacked perfect fifths.

There are 24 short pieces here (some very short) which take the form of what seem to be meditations,..Hilary plays these deceptively simple melodies in what I would descirbe as a 'campanella' (bell-like) style with lots of sustain that creates a hypnotic atmosphere while listening... I enjoyed it all very much.


Philip Thomas, The Living Tradition


The Knockbain Road album cover picture
Cherry Blossom album cover

'the mood ranges from contemplative to playful'

The Scottish composer and harpist Hilary de Vries has produced an albumof original tunes for the wire-strung harp...The mood ranges from contemplative to playful, fluidity in form; some of the tunes are short, eenrgetic bursts, others longer and more ponderous

The careful listener will hear the influence of poetry, line breaks, couplets and poetic rhyming meter. Metaphor, allusion and imagery in the poetry is captured in some of the very lyrical tune titiles: Fragrant with Blue, In Darkness Shine, With the Geese I Rise, Blessed Rain, Leaf Fall and the title track Cherry Blossom After Rain.


Wind, sunshine, rivers, birds and all atmospheric elements can be interpreted in the playing, bell-like intonations in all of the tracks; the varied lengths create an unusual and pleasant listening experience. Mimialist in tone, the music is given space and wide expression.


Anne Marie Kennedy, Irish Music Magazine


© Hilary de Vries 2024