|Richard J Birkin — Vigils (March 11th, 2016)|
Richard J Birkin — Vigils (March 11th, 2016)° Vigils je nahrávka, která sedí někde mezi lyrickým romantismem a o trochu blíže k abstrakci. Paleta oplývá klavírem, smyčci, kytarou, atmosférou, ale je to právě tato rovnováha mezi téměř až příliš svěžími melodiemi a rozptýlenějšími, chladnějšími pasážemi, které činí toto album tak atraktivním. Vlnící piano je vzorové pro The Human Voice a Accretions v kontrastu s volnějšími, temnějšími kousky roztroušených po obou stranách, kdy přívětivá dominantní hra na klavír (někdy připomínající Birkinova spolupracovníka Nilse Frahma) je nastavena proti rostoucím přílivům vzestupných strunných linií. Omezením vokálů pouze na jednu stopu Birkin umožňuje zbytku alba aranžovat textury, myšlenky, abstrakce spíše, než více explikovanou hudbu v textech písní ‘Moonbathing’ a ‘Songs For Spoken Words’. Výsledkem je jisté, sebevědomé a vrcholné dílo současné komorní hudby. Za mne dobrý. Můžu rozjímat, zapínám pračku.
Location: Derbyshire, UK
Album release: March 11th, 2016
Record Label: Reveal Records
01 Vigil I 3:26
02 The Human Voice 1:16
03 Accretions 4:48
04 Vigil II 3:50
05 Moonbathing 6:22
06 Night Sun 3:18
07 Atomhog 2:13
08 Vigil III 1:41
09 A History Of Good Ghosts 3:32
10 Vigil V 2:32
11 Vigil VI 1:37
By Bekki Bemrose March 10th, 2016; Score:
° Last year Nils Frahm initiated the very first ‘Piano Day’, declaring with great excitement, ‘we will celebrate PIANO DAY together. This year for the first time and on each 88th day of the year in the future, until the sun explodes!’ Guitars have for some time been in decline as the all–conquering instrument of choice for those musicians that loosely, or otherwise, come under the banner of popular music. Alongside electronic music, the piano has emerged from the shadows through the contemporary classical music of Frahm and contemporaries Ólafur Arnalds, Max Richter and Johann Johannsson.
° With the second Piano Day fast approaching Richard J Birkin’s Vigils will enjoy a timely release. Although the record features an array of instruments it is the piano at the heart of the record. And there’s no doubt similarities to the aforementioned artists in its classical minimalism, but the babbling brook evoking piano line of ‘Virgil III’ recalls the continuous piano technique of Lubomyr Melnyk’s 2015 release Rivers and Streams. The watery invocations he creates with the instrument are acknowledged as a direct inspiration: ‘The album started at my first studio in a cold old mill by a weir in Darley Abbey, just outside the city of Derby. It was permanently foggy, and the weir was blocked by debris and running fast where it could get through.’
° Birkin’s record inhabits a natural and intoxicating flow. ‘The Human Voice’s’ oscillating strings are underscored by repeated piano notes hinting at the themes to be explored and then swiftly extinguished. Ascension follows and builds on those humble beginnings and expands them into a searching and explorative piece. It’s one of the many tracks that conjures a similar elegance and depth of feeling found in the orchestral chamber music of Rachels.
° ‘Vigil II’ is a pondering, sparse number with an underlying melancholic air that’s apparent many of the record compositions. It’s moments like these that suggest Birkin knows the power of restraint. Rather than be tempted to fill the gaps and break silences he’s brave enough to let quiet moments hang and spark the imagination.
° That said the most sonically full track ‘Moonbathing’, lying at the heart of the album, is the only one to feature vocals and breaks the album up nicely whilst retaining the narrative flow. It ebbs and flows with a simple, but insistent and affecting melody.
° Melody is drawn out with a light touch as on ‘Virgil V’s’ stripped down, and yet hugely effective, balance of piano and strings provided by Iskra Strings who have featured on work by the XX and Radiohead. Equally, ‘Night Sun’s’ oxymoronic title reflects the compositions ominous start that then develops into a sweet, lamenting twinkle.
° Birkin has described the album as being about, amongst other things, ‘lost worlds and small miracles.’ And in that, he has succeeded. It is economic in length, but never in its application or reach. Its minimalism is never dull or slight and every song is fully realised; its discretion tantalisingly leaves you wanting more. Vigils is light and airy, but it has solid emotional purchase and is a fine addition to the piano music tradition. A small miracle it most certainly is. ° http://drownedinsound.com/
° Vigils is a record that sits somewhere between a lyrical romanticism, and something more abstract. The palette is piano, strings, guitar, ambience, but it is this balance between almost–too–lush melodies and sparser, colder passages that make this record so attractive. The rippling piano patterns of The Human Voice and Accretions contrast with the looser, darker Vigils pieces scattered across both sides, where rounded spacious piano playing (at times recalling Birkin collaborator Nils Frahm) is set against the rising tides of ascending strings.
° The play between the record’s two halves is focused by the song Moonbathing. Appearing at first as a logical extension of the more lyrical thematic pieces (appropriate too; Birkin’s last project was the project Songs For Spoken Words with words by Michael Oliver Frearson), much in the same way that the lyric piece Another Glacier appears on Peter Broderick’s Float record; Moonbathing starts simply but by the end has layered its vocals into a warm fuzzy cloud, dropping away at the last second to reveal the line:
° Now I remember why ghosts like the dark and you don’t. A lighter cousin perhaps, of Zelienople’s excellent Colored?
° By restricting the vocals to one track only, Birkin allows the rest of the album to suggest lyrics, thoughts, interpretations, rather than the more explicit music and texts of Songs For Spoken Words, and the result is a confident, mature work of contemporary chamber music. Chamber music because, as the title suggests, it evokes small spaces and contemplation; a record to live with. Beautifully recorded and played, Vigils is an exciting addition to Birkin’s expanding discography. Where he goes next should be very interesting. ° http://www.fluid-radio.co.uk/
° “A slow–burner yet instant–classic in feeling; an essential, beautiful, alive, thrilling record.” — 9/10, NORMAN RECORDS
° “If you’re going to name an album ‘Vigils’, then you need to back it up. It’s not a word to be plucked lightly from the ether, to be hacked out of the dictionary and placed upon a record sleeve. But then, Richard J. Birkin isn’t a talent to be taken lightly, either. An artist of real depth, fragility, and power, his new album ‘Vigils’ arrives on March 11th via Reveal. It’s a truly beautiful return.” — CLASH MUSIC
° “Birkin has described the album as being about, amongst other things, ‘lost worlds and small miracles.’ And in that, he has succeeded. It is economic in length, but never in its application or reach. Its minimalism is never dull or slight and every song is fully realised; its discretion tantalisingly leaves you wanting more. Vigils is light and airy, but it has solid emotional purchase and is a fine addition to the piano music tradition. A small miracle it most certainly is.” — 8/10 DROWNED IN SOUND
° “Contemplative, yes, but also reaffirming; ascendant strings will do that to a record, yet the intelligence in Vigils is how it slips away from both classical conventions and expectations… Compositions with a timeless quality — and they improve with every listen.” — 4/5 THE SKINNY
° “A confident, mature work of contemporary chamber music. Chamber music because, as the title suggests, it evokes small spaces and contemplation; a record to live with. Beautifully recorded and played, Vigils is an exciting addition to Birkin’s expanding discography. Where he goes next should be very interesting.” — FLUID RADIO
° “Inventive and intricate guitar and piano work take turns to lead the way while groundbreakingly atmospheric strings shimmer over the arrangements and characterise the sound to transform the music into the sonic wonder that it is.” — BEARDED
|Richard J Birkin — Vigils (March 11th, 2016)|