“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.
With Małgorzata Łapsa-Malawska once again providing her singular visual counterpoint, Stijn Hüwels and James Murray’s three vigils arrive now at their perfectly formed conclusion, offering an uplifting and timely salve for these troubled times.”
Good things always have to come to an end. Gathering that this is the final part of the “Fieldem / Lost Rites / Wake” trilogy it is a fitting way to go out on. But then when I re-read the sentence that refers the end of the trilogy of albums for Home Normal there is a little hope for me that all is not lost. For people that don’t listen to this kind of music it doesn’t make sense. They miss all the subtleties and the complexities, after all my family are one to comment that I don’t listen to music, I only listen to sounds. But for those of us the appreciate these forms of music will know that after listening to an album such as “Wake” that you know you are listing two musicians who have developed a musical language both singularly and together, that makes for a captivating listen.
The quality of the album that sticks in my mind is how vibrant the music sounds. Some drone related works can be thin with their dynamics and that is not an issue here. This has been a hallmark of the duo going back to some of the tracks on their debut album “Fieldem”. The releases have all had small numbers of pieces with longer lengths and this is their strong suit as they are able to create these works that are organically sounding and constantly evolving. A perfect example of this is how “Mokugomi” grows from tentative beginnings. Another noted quality is the way in which the pieces are layered resulting in a depth of sound which you can then choose to follow certain motifs.
The duo are not afraid to aim for the epic moments as witnessed on the previously mentioned “Mokugomi” and “Munhitsu” which have an orchestral like feel in the way the music soars. That said, when they strip it all back for a trip through gentle, minimal beauty on “Unborn” the music has the same sort of effect, one in which the listener is taken on a journey. Going back to one of the drawbacks of the Drone genre is the way that the pieces can sound a bit samey – that is ok for The Ramones, but within this genre it can come of as flat and uninspired. With “Wake” this is so not the case. All four pieces stand on their own individually and together they create a solid album that will be pushing it’s weight around come end of year lists time.
I hope that this is not the last that we hear from Silent Vigils, but if it is, gentlemen take a bow. “Wake” is available on CD (limited to 200 copies) and Digital through the ever reliable (showing my bias, I know) Home Normal label and if you haven’t guessed it by now, it is very much recommended.