Richard J. Birkin, sound artist, composer, live concert performer and creative technologist, has released his beautiful new 11-track album Vigils via Reveal Records, now available in CD, LP and digital download formats.
Entirely self written and arranged by Birkin, Vigils features Iskra Strings who have played on recordings by influential artists including The XX, Radiohead and Johann Johannsson. Vigils is as contemporary as it is steeped in classic minimalism. Richard J.Birkin has previously collaborated and worked with like minded musicians and producers including Adem and Nils Frahm, before signing to Reveal in 2015.
About Vigils, Birkin says:“This record is about the wonder of the human body, the way we break down communication to electrical impulses so that we can (seemingly) truly connect, scary physics, beautiful physics, sensations beyond physical sensations, ascension, looking for the singularity in the past, lying in a burned out basement with the full moon in your eyes, lost worlds and small miracles.”
Birkin, based in Derbyshire, formed the distinct and elegant piano led compositions present on the album from his isolated residence in an old mill, and with the embellishments and additions from the Iskra Strings Quartet, Vigils was fleshed out in to a striking whole, as contemporary as it is steeped in classic minimalism.
Says Birkin of the album and its artwork’s origins:“Significant human evolution is not fast and loud but slow and quiet. So slow that you almost don’t notice it happening. Except when you look back and see changes after they’ve happened…that’s when you see the giant leaps. The brief I gave to Aaron Bradbury (album art creator and Head of CGI at the National Space Centre) was to create a sculpture, within a dusty space, lit only by moonbeams. The sculpture would be of the moment of a singularity – the split second origin of a giant leap, frozen in time, as if part of Miss Favisham’s world…”
He continues…“The album is a soundtrack to the idea of looking back at our present from somewhere in the future, after one such giant leap, where things are different than they are now. Where perhaps all rooms are dusty and frozen in time. Where you can see the discreet moments that quietly coalesced into something momentous. Where you feel like a visitor…like you’re the one haunting the room.”
The theme of connection has underpinned much of Richard J. Birkin’s recent work. Last year he embarked on an interactive installation project entitled Night Sun, whereby a musical toy box activated a story and soundtrack once a passer-by touched it.
Vigil I 3.26
The Human Voice 1.16
Vigil II 3.50
Night Sun 3.18
Vigil III 1.41
A History Of Good Ghosts 3.32
Vigil V 2.32
Vigil VI 1.37
“Magnificent, dazzling and emotionally involving.” – THE ARTS DESK
“Richard J. Birkin’s music is beautifully haunting“- THE WALLBREAKERS
“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.” – 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