A stirring, expressive and lush example of modern classical music, the first standalone album from film composer Richard J Birkin is outstanding. The glassy class of the opening movement, the brief but beautiful ‘The Human Voice’, and the hypnotic repeated vocals (the only ones here) of ‘Moonbathing’ are just some of the reasons why this is so immersive from the start. But highlights abound and every subsequent listen pulls you further in. There are contemporary classical reference points of course, Nils Frahm- who Birkin has worked with before- and the solemn strings of Johann Johansson, but much of ‘Vigils’ looks further back. Even that album title suggests something deeper than the usual movie soundtrack comparisons, something reverent, religious even. Not content to just be pretty, no background sound this, Birkin creates movement and weight even when his music is at its most peaceful. And at a time when cold ambience is en vogue, that’s a decidedly bold move. Something so fragile is rarely so powerful.


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