3 Feb 2015

Richard Moult "Procyon Amphisbaena Procyon"

Reviewed by Grey Malkin (The Hare & The Moon)

Richard Moult is both a prolific, active and yet reclusive and low profile composer. Over the last couple of years Moult has been involved in several of the finest recordings this listener has yet heard; from his own windswept and evocative 'Aonaran', to the melancholy and beauty of his collaboration with David Colohan 'Hexameron', with numerous releases as a part of Irish psych folk unit United Bible Studies (such as last year's superb 'Doineann' and the haunting 'Spoicke') and finally with fellow atmospherists Raising Holy Sparks on the widescreen and epic 'A Mendicant Hymnal'. Perhaps Moult prefers to simply let his music speak for him and when it is this special there can be no complaint.

To begin it is important to note that 'Procyon Amphisbaena Procyon' is a suite of sorts; it works best and is at its most deeply moving as a symphony listened to in its entirety. Actually, it perhaps works best at twilight somewhere in the countryside watching the sky darken, but in the absence of having this environment available this is an album that requires a certain amount of attention and immersion. Close your eyes, dim the lights, light a candle, prepare. The rewards are a listening experience as emotive and beautiful as you will ever have with a piece of music. 'Procyon over Beinn Airigh Charr (For String Quartet, Piano and Electronics)' starts with a hush, sounds gently ascending into view with violin swirls that weep through the silence. A distant, glistening drone provides an undercurrent and sympathetic cello frames the violin as it cries, shrieks and howls into the darkness. At once ethereal yet earthy, mysterious and melancholic, this is music that you can feel in your heart, your stomach. It evokes the sense of watching a storm out at sea from the mainland, tremulous rushes of sound and energy followed by the sudden quiet. The track builds and layers, the strings becoming more urgent and calling out across the dusk. Sombre yet stately and utterly beautiful, this is music that is in essence wild, of nature. The electronics are a shimmer across the horizon, each string movement crystalline and precise and painted across the sky. The track ends as it begun, disappearing back into silence. It is absolutely breathtaking.

Next, 'Amphisbaen (Musick for a Summer Evening)’ is more strident, warmer and less storm ridden yet very much touched with the same sense of sadness and loneliness as its predecessor. Essentially a unique kind of chamber music, this is composition on a large scale, both emotionally and in terms of its scope and ambition. Finally, 'Procyon over Beinn Airigh Char (For Piano and Electronics)' enters on a reverbed, hazy drone of electronics before the strings join, hesitantly at first, suggesting the oncome of something ominous and distant. Piano notes form a vulnerable backdrop and the drones yearn and twist like clouds across the night sky. Reminiscent of perhaps some of Christoph Heeman's work or Colin Potter and Michael Begg's 'Fragile Pitches' this is a carefully and considerately pitched treated electronic symphony, not a note is wasted. The piece fades into silence before returning tentatively, then more forcefully with piano trembling and huge swathes of dark, plaintive noise sweeping across the speakers; the storm is directly overhead. Finally receding, the strings enter one last time and repeat a single, mournful motif. And then there is silence once again.

Moult specialises in heartfelt and evocative soundtracks and this is no exception; there is darkness here but also beauty, hope and fear. 'Procyon Amphisbaena Procyon' is an utterly original album that works on an emotional and physical level that words can't properly describe or articulate; you need to experience this for yourself. Do not miss out.

Available now as a download.

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