For his first full-length album since 2016’s Vigils, composer & media producer Richard J. Birkin went all in to create something big hearted and beautiful at a time when such things are arguably most needed. Those who have followed his body of work know there is always a compelling foundational concept behind each of Birkin’s recordings and matterlightblooming is no different in that regard. The album, we are told, was conceived as a soundtrack “about technology, empathy, and where we go next”. The title was taken from a literary reference to an imagined phenomenon that results in a “rush of energy and light that occurs when a soul departs the liminal space between life and death”, but Birkin essentially transforms this idea (how cleverly meta) by inverting it into a hopeful metaphor for the world of the living – an impassioned plea to envision something better on the other side of the dark and bitter times which we find ourselves traversing.
“I was writing the music and thinking about transformation, other states of being, drastic change. A blooming of kaleidoscopic possibilities for humankind, in the face of what feels like a decline. There is also a thread of loss throughout the album, for what is left behind or what could have been. It was written about a deep hope for humankind, and I hope that the music can pass on that feeling…even if only for a moment.“Richard J. Birkin
It is no small feat to effectively put paid to such aspirations through music, but Birkin does just that. The compositions on the album are beautifully realized and stunningly arranged with the participation of members of The London Contemporary Orchestra in both quartet and ensemble form. Punctuated by moments of tender and wistful reflection, the music is epic in its sweep and unwavering in its optimism.
In Birkin’s creative world, the visual medium is an equally important mode of expression and one can see he has paid careful attention to the colors & motifs that permeate both presentation and artwork to augment the theme of the album and make it a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. If you are looking something to gently lift your spirits and light up your synapses, this should be just the ticket.
matterlightblooming is available on CD & digital from Reveal Records. The album can also be ordered bundled with a signed A5 art print by Birkin (quantities limited).