Shot through with enough pathos and pain to melt the hardest of hearts, Hhymn have been causing quite a stir since Simon Ritchie and Ed Bannard first got together in their native Nottingham in early 2008. Bored with the same old sound that most of their peers were making and quickly coming to the conclusion that empty vessels make the most noise, Ritchie and Bannard retreated into what they call “a wilderness world of windmills, zithers, mandolins, ukuleles, harmoniums, dulcimers, double basses, brass and brushes” to write the truly sublime set of songs that make up their achingly beautiful debut album, due for release later this year.
Having spent 18 months writing and fine-tuning their sound, Hhymn released their first limited edition EP in the summer of 2009. The EP sold out after their first couple of gigs, pricking up the discerning ears of Tom Robinson, who immediately booked the band for his BBC6 Introducing show. Sessions soon followed on BBC Radio Nottingham’s The Beat, and rapturous reviews started to appear everywhere from Hot Press to Drowned In Sound.
Pinning Hhymn’s unique yet oblique music down is as downright difficult as catching a goldfish in a swimming pool with your bare hands. Their mellifluous melodies, swooningly gorgeous, plaintive vocals and slow-burning but infectious songs bring everyone from Bon Iver and Beirut to The Be Good Tanyas, Will Oldham and Tim Hardin to mind.
Simon Ritchie first met Ed Bannard when he came to cut some demo’s at Ed’s studio, and the two soon started playing together, despite the fact that they were both busy with their own bands at the same time. Having returned to Nottingham after a brief stint in London, they started writing together, initially with the sole intention of avoiding the anonymous and instantly forgettable acoustic songs that seem to have been clogging up the airwaves for the last few years.
After a few months of hard toil, they had a set of unforgettable tunes to die for and lyrics to cry to – songs they felt could last in this increasingly shallow and ephemeral musical climate – but as a band, they were still far from the finished article until they recruited long-term friend Mike Wynne on drums, Amy Helliwell on glockenspiel, organ and trumpet and Will Jeffrey on bass.
Having painstakingly cut off all of the excess fat, Ritchie and Bannard were left with a clutch of truly timeless tunes including These Hands, Land Of Souls, What Will Be, In The Depths and Paper Trail . There are more to come, but the first fruits of their labours of love and loss are more than enough to draw listeners into their deliciously dark musical waters.
Given that the wider world is yet to fall for Hhymn’s book of ineffably memorable, mesmerisingly beautiful songs, it somehow seems strange to be heaping such high praise on them, yet it is only a matter of time before anyone with a heartbeat and a good set of ears catches on to their lilting lullabies for the broken hearted.