Richard Moult, Yclypt

John Schaefer

By John Schaefer

on 06.26.13 in Reviews

Richard Moult is an English painter, pianist and composer whose work has a simultaneously spiritual yet earthbound cast. His Celestial King for a Year, for example, is a three-part suite inspired by ancient Christian (pre-Gregorian) chant, and by the even more ancient pagan rituals that marked the changing of the seasons. Ethe is a collection of atmospheric works in a simple, homespun style for what sounds like an upright piano alternating with electronic soundscapes. (Both are available on eMusic.) For Yclypt, Moult has continued in both veins. The album’s opening suite, “Apollo Winceleseia,” is a three-part work for bowed strings; as with the earlier Celestial King, those strings are played with almost no vibrato in Parts 1 and 2, sounding for all the world like an Elizabeth consort of viols (the fretted instruments that were largely supplanted by the fretless members of the violin family). In Part 3, the writing grows even sparer and still, with the use of tremolo suggesting a wintry wind blowing over a barren English countryside.

Sacred music for wanderers of the hills and roads

Moult himself has written that these pieces were inspired by the pastoral countryside of England, and that they represent “sacred music for wanderers of the hills and roads.” Two of his string works might also suggest electronic music: “Song For Mourie” has the timeless, slightly haunted quality of a traditional Gaelic air (Moult now lives in remote northern Scotland), even as the string parts unspool in single lines, like a series of synthesizer drones; and “Symbol of an Infinite Past” uses a heavily-reverbed string sound to create a sense of space and distance, as if we’re hearing the music echoing not from distant hills but from some other time.