Stijn Hüwels

Six Pieces For Guitar

‘Letting things be’ is the mantra for Belgium-based sound and recording artist Stijn Hüwels. The well-shaped notes naturally unfurl and unfold, as they were always meant to. They were born for this very purpose. It’s destiny. Naturally, and, as a result, in a calm way, the atmosphere develops. Second by second, the faint light of the music increases, glowing ever brighter as the Saturday saturation strengthens. As the record takes its shape, colours bloom.

The incredibly soft tones gently circle their surroundings, forming finely-drawn, slow spirals and shapes of succulent symmetry as they are at first lifted by the air and then crushed by the fall. The harsh, plucked attack of the guitar has faded. Usually, there’s no escaping that attack, because you can’t drastically change its articulation without some kind of effect being used. It’s just the way she was made. Still, you’d never know it was there, covered as it is by deep, translucent leaves of reverb. These six pieces have personality and, strange as it may sound, Hüwels doesn’t seem to interfere with the process, instead allowing it all to unfold, gazing at the magic as if from a distant field.

The notes are pure and clean, as if they’ve just taken a tonal shower. A bass rumbles as it passes through, but it never interferes. In fact, sometimes you’re not really aware of it at all. A rise in volume doesn’t necessarily increase the dramatic narrative of the music; here, the stronger swells are brighter than the soft bleeds, but they’re just as calm as the quieter moments. It’s the equivalent of a sunrise, the Earth inhaling the light at a slow tempo, the water illuminated but rippling with the same kind of momentum as before.

At times you can hear the sound of the notes rippling, the dense, wet reverb creating a lovely watery, shimmering effect. Single swells and soft bleeds are the order of the day. Sometimes the swell is so soft it resembles the gradual dynamic change of a violin as the bow passes across and through to the other side, tweaking the volume and the resulting intensity in a gentle, careful arc. Secondary textures appear to have been added, but it’s all a blur. You’re never quite sure when they appeared, or at what specific point you became aware of their presence. It doesn’t really matter. They’re here now.

Field recordings whisper inside and around the music, and descending tones are looped as they travel along their paths. They don’t seem to think about their destination, and they don’t need to. They have their own kind of freedom, equaled only by the serenity of gliding across a red sky at forty thousand feet. Others are so slow they mist up with a vague hue of sorrow –‘untitled 5’ in particular. The eight minutes gives it the time it needs to spread its wings, and then it dreamily fades into the coda. The whole record plays out as a slumbering song capable of catching serene dreams. And what a dream it is.

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