Richard Moult Chamber Music


Martin Heidegger explains, in my own limited and admittedly faulty understanding, the term phusis (or physis) as a central concept within the ancient Greek world view. This term was later translated by the Romans into natura, and thence it came to us as “nature”. However, according to Heidegger, the first interpretation of this word imposes a distortion on the original tractates in ancient Greek which made use of their own term. Phusis is not a fixed entity or grouping of entities, but rather a process of un-concealment. Instead of using the loaded words that refer to ‘being’ in verb and noun, there is a description of ever-denuding, along with an impetus or a counterpart of covering. In between this constant un-concealment and concealment there is another space created, or one that more properly always is. One can say, thus, that nothing changes, but everything is a process of showing itself, while never wholly achieving it; in short, an infinite dynamic of light and darkness and that which is both, or none.

The present musical work may be apprehended as an ethereal representation of a similar concept, though the writer makes no justification of that through a direct, one-to-one reference to structure. Rather, there is in the texture, the main line as transformation and ebbing across the rest of the instrumentation, especially in the ‘Widgael Concerto’, that can give the listener a sensual apprehension of the idea of phusis. The following ‘Hroan Of The Ceri Forest’, also in three parts, provides a curious sense of immanence, perhaps through the frequent use of an effect of suspense in the strings, a sense of stasis streaked with hints and whispers of burgeoning life (and which minutes into the second movement remind one of similar textural  by Rick Wakeman in the more airy parts of ‘Close to the Edge’). This is a music that is at once familiar and distant, friendly but uncaring, aloof; at once embracing yet out of reach. Finding oneself at its mercy, encircled by a whole that is every part, and which raises oneself above oneself, in a unique generous, gesture of triumph within one’s grasp.

The Chamber Music of Richard Moult, moreover, exudes an intensely English aroma, though supple in its admixture of a chilly distance and an autumnal decay, suffused over forms and lives, sharp peaks and dark crevices always beyond, never here. An adroit elegance marks this work, remaining substantial while ungraspable, perhaps the result of an adept handling of musical elements outside the confines of scholarly rigidity, though not rejecting the repertoire of experience guarded by centuries of obsessive love. In it, the simple attains an exquisite richness of details, and that which is grand beyond dimensions becomes apprehensible.

Jordi Savall & Montserrat Figueras El Cant De La Sibil·la: Catalunya

Few classical music performers can boast of the sense of awe and wonder that Jordi Savall re-instills into works from eras in which this art was about surrendering to the grandeur of what can be termed creation, without acquiescing to religious exotericism. In the present performance of the Gregorian-style composition titled ‘The Song of the Sybil’, an additional layer of instruments is added, including sparse percussion and supple string accompaniments that enter and leave the main body of vocal lines like phantasms. One could say that we can hear an originally Christian vocal composition based on an ancient pagan mystery being re-appropriated, by way of artistic and spiritual infusion, of that originally pagan aura that wonders deeply at a mostly hidden cosmos that whispers its secrets here and there, and in which we are but small spectators and explorers, and not the hubristic chosen species of the originally Jewish god given free reign to abuse the Earth as long as they bow down to his mercy, and not daring to look too much beyond exoteric words.

The arrangements upon the score are sensitive and channel all technical artistry towards an organic and vibrant expression that flows into valleys and then soars suddenly in an abrupt upward stare. The instruments, including the magnificent human voices, are utilized with care and in carefully thought out measure, in a way that tells us that not only cold thought was used, but an inner sense of balance between pacing forth and strong statements that ground the whole experience for the listener. This is, indeed, the purpose of the solo-tutti transitions, whose theoretical structuration is the basis for the rest of the winding instrumental voices and decisions. Each time one of the two comes back, it is the a reincarnation: a same essence but a different expression, an immovable rod extending through the state changes of the cosmos whose sequence constitute what we know as ‘time’.

In this musical marvel we may find lessons of all kinds, both explicitly musical as well as metaphorical mysteries of life. What is pertinent for us to say in this specific time and place, is that the dark musical arts, black metal most definitely included, should be taking deep hints from such revived spiritual music from true masters of music, who  in the true solitude and desolation of their times discovered the sequences, and embellished the bodies thereof, of the sound-spirits we hear in art such as that of ‘The Song of the Sybil’. To perceive it in sensual apprehension is but a first step, and an important one in the integral view of things, but true understanding most go beyond, not only to metaphor and tenuous apprehension, but towards an understanding of both ‘esoteric’ as well as mechanical dynamics. Only then, through a full usage of our present human faculties, can we ascend.

Ubils: C.R.U.E.L. En Concierto Antifest VII

The music of C.R.U.E.L. started out not as an extension nor a ramification of Abyssum, but as a different avenue of thought connected to a different source of inspiration. C.R.U.E.L. is the word of an infernal prophet, and this is reflected both in the hammer-like idiosyncrasies of the music and the lyrical titles which serve as pointers and guidelines. We find here a hammer lit on fire, bringing violent illumination to the feeble minded, and a swift death to those unable to withstand the sudden onset of a cruel reality.

In this particular live setting, C.R.U.E.L. reduces its presence to an incredibly dynamic duo of overdriven guitar and a drum set which infuse their own strong personalities into the performance of the composition. The power of this recording comes in great part from the way they are performed live and the known imperfection shifts that lend it its natural feel, but old compositions are given brighter life by virtue of different strumming attitudes in the guitar and powerful inflections and fills on the percussion side.

If a simple outline of the music were sketched on a paper, it would seem like a pretty straightforward arrangement, because on a certain, superficial level, it is. However, the present music only attains its full manifestation when played and channeled through particular musicians: a sign of space for evolution, and sorcerous application. It may be argued that this is or should always be the case with any piece of music, but for those paying close attention, it should become apparent that this is not the case with most modern music whose performance is enabled by electricity and whose “life” revolves around studio recordings.

Original compositions with a new outlook are further given context by the inclusion of two short Hellhammer covers done as tribute, absorbed into the style of musicians who were probably themselves greatly influenced by the young legendary Tom G. Warrior and his uniquely deranged music.

§ Walking amongst adverse forces

The first thing that should be said in regards to the ideology that emanates from C.R.U.E.L. is that it fits the mentality of a warrior. It seeks power and upon encountering it utilizes it, knowing how to act as it becomes one with it rather than be destroyed or consumed by this fire. In a way, a symbiosis takes place in which both this infernal power becomes the enabler of the mad poet, yet the poet becomes an instrument for cosmic intentions of these powers flowing and using him as a unique gate.
The maddened defiance that results from this union only enhances a reluctance to bow down to any kind of authority, be it human or from beyond. This does not mean that there is no recognition of frailty or mortality; that is, there is no pedantic hubris leading the individual to a baseless pretension to godhood or any such empty expressions of delusional children. Rather, it is a Promethean, yet intelligent, becoming one with dangerous energies which may be destructive, and which at some level do destroy despite all, and so exert a cleansing influence over the adept so engaging them.
Against what many may and will misunderstand, this does not imply a complete disavowal of tradition [1], because this is metal music, after all, and the instruments are played according to their respective traditional roles and using their traditional techniques. Rather, primacy is placed over compositional experimentation, or wherever the transcendental musician sees fit in order that a grander plan and sorcerous scheme of music may be accomplished, as befits a music that is more than merely human.

§ Beyond Form and Function

Music as a form of a communication can be broken down into certain components which make it intelligible on some particular level(s). A minimalist music is said to be reduced to its necessary components, so that all form is serves some kind of function. That is, there is no element in the music that does not contribute to the physical mechanics and organization of the whole. The music of C.R.U.E.L. in this live album could be said to fit this description in the sense that there are no floating components here, each has its place in advancing the music, rather than serving as appendages or simply redundant embellishments.

Moreover, no form in this recording is simply in place for the sake of bridging or fulfilling a structural need, but rather maintains the contrapunctal ideal [2]; which is not to say that we will find baroque counterpoint in melodies, but that a principle of instrumental cooperation is upheld. What we see is that if we separate the two instruments, they achieve a dark beauty of their own, an entrancing self-sufficiency, and wild abandon; and when they are brought together they are made to match and hold a dialogue with each other. In this, we find an aesthetic concern in every contour of this violent music.

Music of this kind cannot be called strictly ‘minimal’ in the sense of it being reductionist, for there is no loss of potentiality; rather, we could say that this is ‘minimalism well done’. C.R.U.E.L.’s present incarnation has moved away from its previous experimentation and has been compressed through Ebvleb’s method to a place beyond both form and function —neither a ‘well-oiled machine’ nor a simple ‘work of art’, but rather a ‘sword of death’ in its full ideological glory. The flayed entity that has now arisen as C.R.U.E.L. approaches that in-between status that the imposing yet inspiring Gothic cathedral achieves by the design of its master builders. [3]

§ A world beyond expression

Artistic mystic expression as codified communication is characterized by its grasping for objects that cannot be grasped; by trying to describe things that words are not well-equipped to describe. Thus, the exercise of mystic expression becomes one of opening spaces, pushing waves of aesthetic effects and conflicting meanings so that through them, or across them, the human mind can catch a glimpse of their writer’s suggestion. Music in particular is very problematic because it is inherently mystic in that there is not always a direct correlation between structure and meaning, except for certain general implications of basic or wide patterns in frequency and speed.

But music can be the best ally of the mystic poet if he is in tune with that nature, and if he knows how to listen. Here is where Ebvleb excels and finally brings C.R.U.E.L. up to its expressive potential; he achieves this in the same way that he dis-covers the physis [4] of his music projects as they reveal themselves to him, by listening attentively, by waiting and recognizing that unfolding of being beyond description. Observation, listening, following and opening up to forces that then speak through the technical abilities of the singular composer as a linking point to our universe, a nexion, is the art at which Ebvleb excels.

Unique to the music that results from such an unveiling is a rich aftertaste, the emergence of a hidden world that lingers even after the sounds have stopped which was not previously there, uncovered by sorcerous action. The present C.R.U.E.L., as much as Abyssum, approaches the tools and language of metal not by engaging in the making of riffs, which is the illusion at which the majority is confused, but the manipulation of phrases. To borrow another term brought to mystical parlance by the enigmatic David Wulstan Myatt, it would be more appropriate to talk about fluxions [5] and their arrangement, when it comes to the metal works produced by Ebvleb.

In contradistinction with Abyssum, whose aftertaste appears to be one of immensity and of the infinite void dwarfing yet permeating human existence, C.R.U.E.L. would appear to bring fire and destruction, a veritable apocalypse. Its mystic creation, the shadow it leaves after its passage, is one of scorching obliteration and the coming of what mundanes fear, and what they presume to know as evil.


[1] An illuminating passage regarding Tantra’s attitude towards tradition can be found in Agehananda Bharati’s The Tantric Tradition; page 21 of chapter 1, ‘The philosophical content of Tantra’, reads:

[begin quote]
All tantrics flout traditional exoteric orthodoxy, all put experiment above conventional morality denying ultimate importance to moralistic considerations which is not contradicted by the fact that most tantric texts pay initial homage to conventional conceptions of morality; and all agree that their specific method is dangerous, and radical, and all claim that it is a shortcut to liberation.
[end quote]

[2] In his book, Counterpoint, Kent Kennan writes regarding counterpoint:

[begin quote]
As a technique, this might be defined as the art of combining two or more melodic lines in a musically satisfying way. Included in this definition is the assumption that each line is good in itself; and the phrase “a musically satisfying way” implies among other things that the lines will be independent yet coordinated in feeling.
[end quote]

[3] Otto von Simson says about gothic architecture, in his The Gothic Cathedral: Origins of Gothic Architecture and the Medieval Concept of Order, that:

[begin quote]
Architectural form reveals function as much as it reveals the actual physical interplay of weights (or thrusts) and support. Such interplay is very much in evidence in the Greek temple and not at all in a Byzantine church. The picture is somewhat ambivalent in Gothic architecture. Here it is not easy to determine whether form has followed function, or function form. [page 6]
[end quote]

and later, that

[begin quote]
(…) even the shape of the unequivocally structural members in the Gothic system is deliberately modified often at the expense of functional efficiency, for the sake of a certain visual effect. Thus the massive thickness of walls and piers is never allowed to appear; where it might be visible, as through openings of gallery arcades, tympana and colonnettes placed in these openings create the illusion, not of a wall, but of a membrane – thin surface. Again, the true volume of the support is concealed behind, or seemingly dissolved into bundles of frail, soaring shafts. [page 7]
[end quote]

[4] We read, in the first chapter of Gregory Fried and Richard Polt’s translation of Heidegger’s Introduction to Metaphysics:

[begin quote]
Phusis as emergence can be experienced everywhere: for example, in celestial processes (the rising of the sun), in the surging of the sea, in the growth of plants, in the coming forth of animals and human beings from the womb. But phusis, the emerging sway, is not synonymous with these processes, which we still today count as part of “nature.” This emerging and standing-out-in-itself-from itself may not be taken as just one process among others that we observe in beings. Phusis is Being itself, by virtue of which beings first become and remain observable.
[end quote]

It should also be mentioned that David Wulstan Myatt makes prominent use of the term in his own writings, but using the less confusing transliteration physis, from the same Greek word φύσις .

[5] Originally, fluxion was a term used by Sir Isaac Newton to indicate a precise mathematical and physical event. The the online entry by Encyclopedia Britannica on fluxion reads:

[begin quote]
Fluxion, in mathematics, the original term for derivative, introduced by Isaac Newton in 1665. Newton referred to a varying (flowing) quantity as a fluent and to its instantaneous rate of change as a fluxion. Newton stated that the fundamental problems of the infinitesimal calculus were: (1) given a fluent (that would now be called a function), to find its fluxion (now called a derivative); and, (2) given a fluxion (a function), to find a corresponding fluent (an indefinite integral). Thus, if y = x3, the fluxion of the quantity y equals 3×2 times the fluxion of x; in modern notation, dy/dt = 3×2(dx/dt). Newton’s terminology and notations of fluxions were eventually discarded in favour of the derivatives and differentials that were developed by G.W. Leibniz.
[end quote]

David Wulstan Myatt rescues this term in perhaps the full meaning used or meant by the one-time alchemist Sir Isaac Newton, rather than letting it be reduced to a dead-letter term for a merely numerical operation.

Nigromante Centuries of Sacrifice

Tal como su nombre revela, el canal de inspiración que alimenta a Nigromante es una conexión mística con energías a los que solamente algunos pueden ser lo suficientemente sensibles como para cristalizar una sensación concreta o un fugaz concepto forastero a la mente que lo alberga. Las obras de este proyecto se desarrollan completamente con teclados, usando de manera moderada nada más el ocasional efecto estirado o distorsionado entre las capacidades más alienantes del sintetizador. Esto último hace que la música de Nigromante, a pesar del tema y de la cantidad de ideas que presenta, siempre se mantenga sobrio en lugar de ser devorado por el ansia de llevar al oyente a un lugar extraño. En lugar de esto, un mundo se crea a través del uso de estructuras musicales claras, y la experiencia se desarrollo en una serie de episodios sutilmente introducidos que presentan material nuevo sin resultar totalmente inesperados; es decir, la música siempre procede de manera natural aunque claramente dirigida por una voluntad que crea secuencias únicas.

La metodología de composición usada en el periodo medio de Nigromante es una que, a diferencia de futuras obras, establece claramente voces principales y acompañantes. Esta división de labores hace que las texturas tengan una tendencia a la homofonía, aunque sin en realidad seguir la elección de una textura como una regla. Una de las características de Nigromante es precisamente ese control en exploración que le permite elaborarse de manera clara y articulada al usar formas, melodías y relaciones directamente aprehensibles dentro de marcos que reflejan trenes de pensamiento, transposiciones de idea y giros en la dirección emocional de la música que llevan al oyente en una aventura sumergida en vastas ruinas y restos descompuestos hace ya mucho tiempo. Este carácter fúnebre-melancólico es muy propio de esta etapa de Nigromante, y sus laberintos aparentemente interminables e insondables los hace distintos de las meditaciones mortuarias constantes que les precedieron y las nebulosas sinfonías polifónicas medievalescas que llegarían varios años después, sin que esta comparación le reste mérito a cualquiera de las etapas.

Compuesto de melodías predominantemente consonantes y enfatizando ciertas curvas dentro de harmonías menores, Centuries of Sacrifice crea estructuras complejas que se asemejan a una historia mítica rescatada o arrancada de sueños proféticos, o quizás ventanas a lo que fue en algún plano —memorias genéticas perdidas, energías residuales cargadas de trozos de la existencia de algún ser caído en el olvido. El sutil comienzo de la obra no otorga al oyente una pista de la operación mágica que es, en esencia, una forma de explorar el mundo de los muertos, aunque uno no se logra dar cuenta si es un pensamiento suscitado o si estamos nosotros cruzando el umbral de la puerta hacia el reino de lo no-muerto, trazos de lo que no está de un lado ni de otro pero que posee consciencia de cierta manera inhumana.

La música de Nigromante aquí es una vía entreabierta fácilmente ignorada; es una antorcha que anda frente a nosotros en ese confuso mundo de sombras, y si la mente del oyente no se encuentra correctamente alineada, los sonidos se perciben sordos, como protegidos por una invisible pared que los sofoca. Es decir, no son llaves per se las que se necesitan para este lugar, mas una disposición e inteligencia que han de interactuar a nivel químico con el espíritu detrás de la música. Quien realmente ha logrado beber de la fuente aparentemente interminable de inspiración de Nigromante sabe que al realizarse la conexión una invasión toma lugar, ese espíritu crea una atmósfera helada y soporífera a la vez, distante y cercana, ajena y nuestra.

Hay un cierto aire medieval en la sencillez, consonancia y forma de las melodías individuales, un factor no poco importante para los desenlaces antes mencionados. Lo que se hilvana engañosamente a partir de ellos viene a crear el aura total de la obra, que es una de muerte, pero una muerte eterna que no es sencillamente el vacío de la concepción mundana, sino la vía que nos une al pasado y al futuro. Es en muerte que la llamarada efímera de una vida hace cientos de años aguarda al Nigromante que hoy liberará el dolor extenuante y las sordas frustraciones que magnéticamente quedan atrapadas entre el olvido y la vida.


Cabeza de Buitre Herrero de Brujas

La confluencia de música electrónica de tipo ambiental, las palabras elegantes más que pretenciosas y una imagen naturalista y clara, nos dan a conocer una personalidad especialmente aristocrática, y una actitud particularmente madura hacia los nebulosos temas centrales de la obra. Al hacerlo de esta manera hay un distanciamiento y a la vez un entendimiento respetuoso del tema. La experiencia en carne propia de cada forma de vida, de cada evento, o de una realidad necesitaría que esta claridad y entendimiento racional se perdiese, ya que en el actuar el agente se volvería parte del evento, y no un observador. No podemos saber con seguridad cual es el caso aquí, sin embargo, podríamos así mismo postular que Herrero de Brujas es la cristalización después del hecho, de momentos y vivencias místicas de manera que se logran transmitir a quien se abre a ellas. La música que, por otro lado, pretende comunicar el caos que la persona experimenta de manera única en ciertos momentos, falla a cada nivel, como arte y comunicación, y se vuelve poco más que un accidente exterior de un estado trastornado.

Donde muchos otros pretenden tocar estos temas querrán evocar atmósferas oscuras a través de métodos obvios, Cabeza de Buitre pasa de ligera curiosidad y fascinación con lo incomprendido, a un temblor corporal, un catarsis de posesión —una coincidencia significativa, sostenida y que abre una ventana hacia un espacio ortogonal a los que entendemos en estados mentales comunes. Es por esta misma razón que lo comunicado aquí, lo cual es todo lo que podemos juzgar ya que es imposible acceso a la experiencia interna del autor, lleva más allá y de manera más efectiva, que la mayoría de obras contemporáneas electrónicas que pretende acercarse a lo oculto. Vale la pena aclarar que la obra más sincera y despierta no se impondrá abstracciones innecesarias como satánica u oculta: la vida como tal, como una, ya es un evento intrínsecamente oscuro para nosotros los humanos. El terror existe como parte del todo, es nuestra reacción a la grandiosidad del cosmos y lo efímero de nuestras existencias conscientes; el estar vivo y acercarse a la vida como tal de manera desafiante, el indagar en carne propia, el experimentar; en todo esto ya está implícito el contacto con lo oscuro —con lo siniestro— lo cual da contraste y da valor a esos momentos verdaderamente Apolíneos de numinosidad pura y libre de la imposición mental humana que eventualmente pierde significado y se vuelve una cáscara vacía sin nada más que apariencia que ofrecer.

Aunque los materiales sintéticos se asemejan a los que usaría un Tangerine Dream, y que también avistamos algo de ese espaciamiento pensativo propio de Biosphere en su Substrata, a lo largo de sus propios procedimientos, Cabeza de Buitre parece tener en su centro algo que se asemeja aún más a esa paz y constancia druídica que transmite el ambient repetitivo de Varg Vikernes. Sin embargo, la calidad de la música del noruego depende en el poder individual de sus momentos para otorgarle a la audiencia un espacio meditativo, y es por eso que sus composiciones, aunque sencillas, esconden potencialidades en semillas, que emergen en el ser que las recibe. Cabeza de Buitre vuelve a tomar algo de esto, pero siguiendo su propio destino, adopta una ruta más clásica, de exposición más explícita, proveyendo más curvas dentro de piezas más monolíticas que compuestas de episodios. Fluyen estas como agua, diría alguien, más una asociaría algo más de una energía etérea pero tangible con lo que fluye explícitamente a través de ellas.

Como una obra de profundidad trascendental, pareciese esconder capas tras capas de contenido y significado, construidas en el despertar de momentos a la vez únicos mas que encajan en un tren de pensamiento absorto. Esto también viene a causa del manejar y dominar natural de las formas básica de la música, lo cual permite que en lugar de seguir maquetas de acuerdo a reglas genéricas establecidas, el autor logre dejarse ir de acuerdo a su propio sentido. De alguna manera, esto hace al ambient uno de los géneros más libres y reveladores respecto a la capacidad y naturaleza del autor: todo vale, todo cuenta en este cosmos de colores, tempos, y niveles casi infinitos. No es la sencillez, lo revuelto o lo extraño de una obra lo que le da mérito, ni tampoco lo es la reputación o las palabras del compositor per se, si bien estas cosas también puedan servir como pistas e indicadores de las posibilidades que un tipo de mente pueda producir de acuerdo a nuestro propio juicio. Pero, por lo general, la sencillez expuesta a raíz de claridad lleva a la complejidad inteligente y a la belleza de proporción, que también se podrá alcanzar por su aparente violación.

El mensaje final, encapsulado en una impresión suspendida sobre el total de la obra, es tal vez uno eterno y recurrente; hay algo de una alegoría del pasar de seres individuales a otros estados en esta música que evoca la grandiosidad de la vida en su continuo flujo de creación y destrucción. La forma en que se afirma esta totalidad es en su acercamiento puro hacia lo que el humano común llama sombras, realmente un area donde la existencia verdadera y fuera de moralidad y abstracciones toma lugar. El mundo como lo conocemos cae, y en su lugar el deleite y el horror surgen entremezclados, posibilidades infinitas se abren y a la vez uno es puesto en su lugar. La existencia es lucha, guerra, destrucción, y el revivir del alma perseverante.