It will be one year to the day since the Silent Vigils debut ‘Fieldem’ was released. This refined and intensely personal project by James Murray and Stijn Huwels met with critical acclaim in 2018 and even now listeners continue to discover the beautifully packaged album we were so fortunate to release.
‘Lost Rites’ is a truly remarkable follow-up to what I already felt was a highlight in their respective bodies of work, both as solo and collaborative artists. ‘Fieldem’ bore the burdens of tragedy in specific locations, the pieces being ’personal dedications to the quiet strength of blended culture, free thinking and open borders’ as Stijn and James noted upon release.
Their follow-up works as a slow departure from this sense of disaster and fixed place to beautiful effect. ‘Stolen Fire’ and ‘Lost Rites’ feel like a meeting point between the two albums, as the thunderous tones and intense sadness of spirit begin to give way to something altogether more ambiguous and evolved. This fully breaks with the third track, as the masterful ‘Elysse’ carefully redirects emphasis and leads the way through a hypnotic ‘Recursion’ to the final, untethered glide of ‘Shoreless’. There’s a deep undertow of subtle motion guiding this narrative; by the end our focus is no longer the grief itself but rather the awareness that what was lost is never to return, the realisation that wandering souls must move on as their natures dictate.
For anyone who has experienced loss this will surely have huge resonance. As the world seems to turn darker this impression of open movement across a shoreless ocean becomes so very powerful, as does the attendant sense of optimism without expectation. To capture such a strange and indefinable feeling of freedom despite uncertainty is a deeply powerful thing, and only artists with the talent and vision of James Murray and Stijn Hüwels can express it as elegantly as they have here with ‘Lost Rites’.
Małgorzata (Gosia) Łapsa-Malawska once again provides the most beautifully fitting album artwork as we move on from the stark monochrome of ‘Fieldem’ to the blue and blur of journey and waters new.
Written and Produced by Stijn Hüwels and James Murray
Artwork by Małgorzata Łapsa-Malawska
Mastered by Ian Hawgood
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