Silent Vigils is the work of Stijn Hüwels and James Murray. James Murray will be well known to many fans of the label and the ambient scene alike for his highly celebrated works (including 2017’s ‘Killing Ghosts’ for Home Normal), as well the Slowcraft label which he curates. Stijn Hüwels is the curator of the Slaapwel label, and his work with James as Silent Vigils marks the first in a series of collaborations he will be releasing over the next year on Home Normal.
Both Stijn and James are very much part of the modern Home Normal family now, and will be appearing on a number of releases over the next year. I’ve been a fan of Stijn’s understated and organic ambient works for a while now and I’m so glad we finally get to be releasing the first of a number of new projects by him finally. And then of course there is James Murray. To be in close quarters with someone so talented is quite something, with his ability to create carefully constructed ambient music in a variety of tones and types, where others typically work within one strict field.
Their work as Silent Vigils is so delicate, slow-burning and powerful in spirit, that the very name they use for this project is just so fitting. The word ‘vigil’ naturally leads to a concept of reflection and one of being quietly awake and on ‘watch’ during the night. The music reflects this idea so perfectly, with its quietude, patience, and a feeling of nocturnal devotion. Such ambiguous terms could be used for almost any ambient works of course, but few records leave me with such a powerful sense of deep spiritual awareness and contemplative unknowing. This is music that is timeless and powerful, and not really of this modern world, for which I am very thankful indeed.
- Words by Ian Hawgood
Molenbrook, Mossigwell, Zwartewall, Fieldem... places neither here nor there; half in the world, half in the mind. We began this project as an exchange of gestures across the water, a dialogue motivated by mutual respect and revolving around our shared love of the minimal, the graceful and the understated. We completed it on 22nd March 2017 - the day of the Westminster attack, one year to the day after the Brussels bombings. These four pieces have become our personal dedications to the quiet strength of blended culture, free thinking and open borders. Silent Vigils.
We must thank Małgorzata Łapsa-Malawska for her beautiful, plaintive artwork, created especially for this album. One of many thanks due to our dear friend Ian Hawgood is for inviting us both to perform for Home Normal in 2016, planting the seeds of the record you hear now.
- Words by Silent Vigils (Stijn Hüwels and James Murray)
Written and Produced by Stijn Hüwels and James Murray
Artwork by Małgorzata Łapsa-Malawska
Mastered by Ian Hawgood
©2018 Home Normal
All rights reserved
'Impressionistic with its gauzy hues, Silent Vigils ensures that not a single moment is wasted. Without needing to say a single word, the whole album feels akin to a mystical journey. Reference points of Stars of the Lid prove to be particularly informative, for Silent Vigils too lets a mixture of ambient, drone, and classical emerge though rooted within a post-rock sort of framework. By allowing these songs to expand and soar into the sky they feel absolutely weightless with all their thoughtful, carefully considered gestures. Melodically dense, Silent Vigils builds up entire compositions until they become literal forces of nature.' Beach Sloth
'Silent Vigils have released an album that in this fast pace world is suited to taking it slow and being present. The music is Ambient without being light and fluffy with a darkness and depth to it that is not overpowering. The two artists involved have proven over the course of over forty minutes, to be perfect collaborators and hopefully will continue working together. An impressive debut.' Drifting, Almost Falling
'...la consistenza di “Fieldem”, che si manifesta piuttosto come un incontro tra due modi pienamente complementari di interpretare un impressionismo ambientale che attraverso una varietà di sfumature chiaroscurali definisce la consistenza irenica di spazi immaginari.' Music Won't Save You
'Ambient music is auto-tuned to the frequency of peace, and while the outer shell is pretty, its inner message and personality is even prettier. Beautiful, even. Its beauty isn’t skin deep, as the ambient style is conducive to calming thoughts and mental relaxation...We as listeners walk into a quiet chapel – a place that’s supposed to comfort when life becomes a horror story – and as we press play, those hateful demons flee, and we can recite the music’s quiet, sustained prayers.' James Catchpole, Fluid Radio
'緩やかで柔らかいトーンで漂うシンセ〜ギターのフィードバックなどのドローンが静かに重なり合ってスローモーションのように流れていく、デリケートなミニマル・アンビエント〜ドローン・サウンド。少ない音数と起伏の少ないミニマルなサウンドながらも、ディープな暗い雰囲気ではなく、延々と続いていくような儚いサウンドが美しい清らかな音の流れを作り出している、静謐な美を感じさせるアンビエント〜ドローン作品です。' Linus Records
'Perfect for listening while awake in moments usually spent asleep...45 Minutes of peaceful, unhurried music.' Ambient Blog
'This is music that refuses to be hurried or to be swept up in the rancor of the times. It does not meet the listener halfway. To get the full benefit and enjoyment from these compositions, you must succumb to the solitude and embrace the profound stillness, but once you relent, the tranquility is sublime.' Stationary Travels
'Thoughtful, patient and gentle ambient music from Silent Vigils. Fieldem is the first collaborative release of many from Stijn Hüwels on Home Normal, this time with James Murray. Together they craft a soundscape for reflection and remembrance, for hope and for forgiveness.' Norman Records
'Cette proposition permet également de renouveler le déroulé d’un disque qui, sans cela, aurait pu paraître trop homogène quoique de très bonne facture, dans son registre.' EtherREAL
'Here are four ambient tracks that will leave the listener with a powerful sense of deep spiritual awareness and contemplative unknowing.' Clear Spot
'As a whole, Fieldem has a quiet, nocturnal quality about it, which is implicit within the duo's name - equally, it is suffused with a reflective melancholy. By the albums close, a coincidence borne from tragedy has been transfigured into a dedication and remembrance of fragile beauty. ' Periwinkle Hear and Now
'Valt er steeds iets nieuws te ontdekken, ook na meerdere draaibeurten. Die laatste zin gaat op voor het hele album, dat coherent klinkt maar toch uit vier duidelijk verschillende stukken bestaat. Fieldem is een evenwichtig maar ook avontuurlijke plaat die boeit van begin tot eind. Het is kennelijk niet de bedoeling dat het bij een eenmalige samenwerking van Hüwels en Murray blijft. Dat is te hopen, want dit album maakt nieuwsgierig naar wat er nog meer in het vat van Silent Vigils zit.' Opduvel
'La sensazione è quella di ritrovarsi immersi in elegiaci paesaggi emozionali generati tra le pieghe di un sogno lucido senza apparente fine, un territorio irreale nel quale lasciare fluire libero il pensiero accettandone anche le velate inquietudini che a tratti si palesano.' So What Musica
'On Fieldem, the two clearly deploy gestures and techniques associated with electronic minimalism, and the album's four settings exemplify both gracefulness and nuance in their design and effect—ambient productions of high craft and refinement, in other words.' Textura
'Calm, minimal, deep ambient waves on Fieldem by Silent Vigils. SV is Stijn Hüwels and James Murray teaming up, dedicating themselves to music that urges us—gently—to open up and be at peace.' Odile A. O. Strik / Evening of Light
'Jag vet fortfarande inte vad det är som gör att jag uppskattar vissa ambientskivor mer än andra, men den här är verkligen en av de bästa jag har hört i år.' Discreet Music