Blue Gentian Records and Immersive Audio Album are proud to present the third Birdsong At Morning EP, Vigil, newly remixed in 5.1 surround sound by leader Alan Williams. 

In addition to his musical career (both solo and with Birdsong), Williams is also an educator– a former chairman of the Department of Music, he currently serves as coordinator of the music business program at UMass Lowell.

Heavens is Birdsong At Morning’s fifth immersive release, following 2015’s A Slight Departure, 2018’s Signs & Wonders, and the 2023 remixes of their debut EPs Bound and Heavens (2008).

It’s also the third offering of a four-part series of EPs issued in six-month intervals. The final remaining title–Lumens–will be treated to a similar immersive update later this year, with all four EPs eventually gathered together into a single collection entitled Annals of My Glass House.

Birdsong At Morning Vigil 5.1 FLAC

Some readers may recall that in a 2021 interview with us, Alan had previously teased a 5.1 revisitation of Annals:

“Before I embarked on the Evidence Unearthed project, I was contemplating a remix of Annals, especially with an ear to 5.1. But the older version of Nuendo project files wouldn’t properly open, and I gave up in frustration. I’m sure a little (probably more than a little) online sleuthing could solve the problem, so there’s a very real possibility of an updated version in the future.”

There are no immediate plans for a physical release of the immersive mixes; they will be made available exclusively as high-resolution 96-khz/24-bit 5.1 FLAC downloads through IAA’s online shop!

Rest assured that the 5.1 surround sound mixes of Vigil are up to Williams’ usual high standard, with individual guitar, percussion, and vocal elements scattered all throughout the listening space. The drums sound massive, holographically positioned midway between the front-and-rear soundstages.

To further celebrate the re-release of Vigil, here are some comments from Alan on the making of each track.

Numbered Days:

“This song was suggested by the spectre of loss that follows Alzheimer's disease, as well as a cautionary tale for folks that move quickly through relationships without establishing real bonds. Who's going to remember you when you can't remember yourself? The guitar part came from a conscious attempt to speak the musical language of Mark Kozelek and Sun Kil Moon. Don't think I succeeded, but I like the results.”

Softly, Like An Amen:

“The guitar part suggests an Appalachian dulcimer, an instrument I remember trying to play with a Bic pen in a third grade workshop. The lyric was inspired by a series of photographs taken on the battlefields at Gettysburg, and I wrote it from the perspective of a soldier at the moment of his death, imagining his sweetheart. The title comes from a quote in an Alex Ross story about the composer Aaron Copland, whose last instructions to a string ensemble in rehearsal were, "Very good. Now again, softly, like amen." Sounded like poetry to me, and I held on to the phrase until I could find a song to append it to.”

Matte Kudasai:

“Formative years, formative years. Looking back, most of the cover songs we have recorded date from the years 1979/1980. Even the Stones cover comes from an album I bought in 1979, and played obsessively every morning before school. This King Crimson song always captivated me with its ethereal beauty. Our setting attempts to capture that mood, established by Adrian Belew's heavily processed electric guitar, with acoustic instrumentation. The title is Japanese for, 'please, wait.'"

The Heart That Failed:

“A song about alcoholism/addiction, a condition I am blessedly free from, as a number of sober friends would concur. While I can't know what that feels like, I can certainly describe what it looks like. The last verse was inspired by a Raymond Carver story in which a young couple visits a yard sale, the detritus of a dissolved marriage scattered about the lawn. A record player. A dance.”

So Near:

“This is the oldest song in our catalog by several decades. Greg and I performed it in a different incarnation during our conservatory years. Our teacher, Ran Blake assigned us some summer reading – Willa Cather's A Lost Lady – and staged a fall concert to include our musical responses. I was very pleased with the verses, but the chorus was all ham-handed drum machine "rock." Jump forward a few decades, and a different chorus popped into my head. Now I had a song, but no band to perform it. The seeds for our string section were sown here, and in many ways, Birdsong was formed so that I could perform a song like this. Maybe even this exact one.”

Au Revoir:

“What happens when friendships fade? The song came from the odd coincidence of three difficult phone conversations in the same week, all unexpectedly distant where there had once been deep and easy connection. Somewhere out there is a guy waiting to hear this over the radio at 3am.”

Purchase Vigil in the IAA Shop!

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About the Author
Jonathan is an audio engineering enthusiast from New York with a passion for immersive audio, having amassed a formidable collection of multichannel optical discs and quadraphonic vinyl. He earned his undergraduate degree in Television-Radio from Ithaca College and is currently enrolled in a Master’s Program in Audio Technology.