Sound Impression: Wake by Silent Vigils

artwork by Małgorzata Łapsa-Malawska

With the release of their new album Wake this week on Home Normal, Stijn Hüwels & James Murray conclude their masterful triptych under the name of Silent Vigils. The project began in 2017 as “an exchange of gestures across the water” with the first album being finished on what turned out to be the day of the Westminster attack outside Britain’s Parliament and the anniversary of coordinated suicide bombings in Brussels the year before. Against the backdrop of these horrific events in their home countries, and an increasingly fractious political environment, these two artists forged a personal and musical connection. The new record completes a cycle that in its own understated way has followed a trajectory of loss, acceptance, and renewal.

After the deep monochromatic textures of ‘Fieldem‘ and the gradually evolving impressions of hope in ‘Lost Rites’ we now conclude the Silent Vigils trilogy of albums for Home Normal with ‘Wake’, an exceptional celebration of new life and boundless spirit...

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The final coda comprises a suite of four inflorescent drones, each patiently unfolding elegant melodic structures as they stretch resolutely toward the light. The very word drone seems to belie intensity of emotion, but the subtle compositional elements that reveal themselves are deeply felt as a weighty pall of melancholy slowly dissipates into the radiance of the final track. To be sure, Wake is beautiful enough to more than stand on its own, but listeners who enjoy this will get the most from taking in the whole set.

Links: Bandcamp (CD/DL) | James Murray | Stijn Hüwels

Wake is now available from Home Normal in a CD edition limited to 200 copies as well as digital download & streaming. The album was mastered by Ian Hawgood and features artwork by Małgorzata Łapsa-Malawska.