Silent Vigils – Lost Rites

Silent Vigils return with sophomore Lost Rites on July 11. Gentle and quietly stirring, Lost Rites (Home Normal) attempts to bandage and heal (if at all possible) a number of scars and scratches. Its predecessor, Fieldem, discovered plenty of divisive wounds in the depths of western society and culture, which have been left to ferment and fester, bearing poisonous fruit over the last couple of years in particular, but this record heralds the need for deep-seated change. Despair gradually recedes, making way for a morning light and a sunrise glinting with a tentative hope.

Fieldem echoed with ‘personal dedications to the quiet strength of blended culture, free thinking, and open borders’, and in the modern era, all three ways of life are under attack. Moving and morphing from disaster towards evolution and adaptation – survival, basically – their stirring ambient tones retain a sense of sadness for what went down – that will never go away – but they’re now able to accept things, able to move on and grow from uncertainty with both a deep realization that things can never go back to the way they once were, and the knowledge that they’ve been made all the stronger, ready to fight for a brighter future. To see a rainbow, one has to pass a storm. It’s carried along by slow-moving, emotional currents and drifting drones, along with the flotsam of complicated feelings and the erosion of the present. Music, like life, is transient, a circle evaporating and renewing with every passing day, and within a set of haunting drones and oxygenated, soothing drifts, Lost Rites bottles something of its temporary essence.

Fatigued by a recurring slab of sadness and mourning over artificial love, the echoing piano notes fall like tears, splashing against the track’s roots and helping them to grow, in spite of the pain and heartache. The oscillations are in the process of working things out. The ambient is a reality check, not an escape, choosing to digest the bitter pill instead of covering it up with the camouflage of a bouquet and the romance of nostalgia. But the music is still pretty; nothing can change its outward appearance or its inner kindness.

Appearances change and age over time, but a kind heart is eternal, and the world needs more in the way of selfless kindness.

And so, the music keeps on keeping on, pushing on towards a progressive goal, flowing against The New Tide of Hate and Fear, inhaling a peaceful sanctuary and taking solace in tomorrow’s possibilities, waiting for that sunrise, yearning for a new day. Underneath the bandage, the music’s still got scar tissue, a disfigured but vital tattoo and a testament as to what it’s been through, but it lives on in hope, and tomorrow is another day.

The stunning ‘Elysse’ is warm and radiant, moving on with positive steps and wiping away the tears, while closer ‘Shoreless’ becomes the ultimate summer destination: it’s where the music wants to go. A shoreless ocean can represent an end to all barriers and a washing away of any and all restrictions: a cleansing, and the attainment of total freedom. Their progressive vision ties well into June’s celebration of Pride Month: everything is open and everyone is accepted for who they are, and that’s the goal of a free, loving society. The music coasts along on a sublime day, sailing on calm waters, daydreaming of this. In reality, there’s still a long way to go, but the music has progressed.

When I look at images of our precious planet from space, I don’t see any borders. Just continents divided by seismic pools of water.

James Murray and Stijn Hüwels deliver another heartfelt album in which an era of troubling uncertainty engages with an unending love of freedom and a set of values worth fighting for. Love is number one on the list. Yes, something has been lost, but its heart still carries a message of future hope. It’s still beating, and it’s still playing its sweet music. Keeping the fire burning, like a gorgeous sunset as it drops a love bomb into the sea.

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