The slow-burning solo output of Stijn Hüwels and James Murray will be familiar to ambient fans. Their involvement within the scene runs deep. Both artists curate labels, too. Murray is the captain of Slowcraft Records, while Stijn curates Slaapwel. Fieldem takes up residence on the sublime Home Normal label (which will also be familiar). Under the name Silent Vigils, the pair have produced their first collaboration.
Vigils whisper of reflective moods, flickering candles, and silent thoughts, and the music keeps watch under the black blanket of the night while looking out for the listener’s wellbeing. Robed in a barely-there ambient cloth, Fieldem remains awake in the darkest of hours, and as it plays, the listener is invited to dream, to fall under its gently oscillating tones and its swelling, brighter notes. This is 2am, the prime time for predators as they stalk vulnerable, sleeping prey, and a time when the lens has to work overtime in order to ensure the survival of its vessel. In a similar way, Fieldem’s music is quiet and dark, but slivers of light arrive from time to time, bringing some kind of solace and comfort to a lightless black. Dark ambient would highlight and frame those predators, but the music isn’t here to do that; it merely watches over the listener with a steady and kind gaze, like a guardian angel.
Completed on March 23, 2017 – the day of the Westminster terrorist attack in London and one year to the day after the bombing in Brussels – Fieldem’s music is a candle that burns forever. It can’t be snuffed out. The pro-peace tones are strong and resilient; the ugly face of hate has no power or business here. The music’s also a quiet testament to the blending of cultures, nations, and peoples – in their words, to the ‘quiet strength of free thinking and open borders’. The music travels along freedom’s road, and we would do well to remember its signs and signals.
The soundscapes swirl in the air, clearing as slowly as smoke from a day-old fire. They’re devoted to a cause, too – the yin to evil’s yang. Not designed to warp religion and shed innocent blood, but to bring the message of love. The music offers the supreme beauty of peace with open, willing hands, and music is a great healer; this we already know and understand.
She breaks down borders, unites the nations and their respective cultures, accepting everyone.
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. Smeared guitars drip rainy notes and lagging chords, while a sustained organ brings the music into a chancel of light and peace. The vehicle of terrorism is a poisonous idea, and the driver of said vehicle is an ill, brainwashed individual who erased all glimmers of love. 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.
The only bombs we as music lovers and musicians want to hear are those related to the drop of the beat or the emergence of a melody, the moment of eventual release and euphoric explosion.
Say a prayer for the living. Light a candle for those who have gone.