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.

φύσις κρύπτεσθαι φιλεῖ

En alguna cálida vereda cundinamarquesa
por Antonio Espinosa Holguín

Se van en nubes rosas
los mejores de mis días.
En bochornos delicados,
en la fiesta de las ranas,

tú sentada entre cadillos
junto al lino de las matas.
Sosiegan mi aspereza
las auroras de cebada,

silban límpidas abejas
que ennoblecen la mirada.
Aquí, en esta tarde,

el Edén se va, nos sobra.
Tú serena, junto al lago,
yo dormido en una sombra.

Richard Moult Ethe

Ethe is made up of mostly piano and piano-based compositions of a minimalist kind, which should not be misinterpreted as meaning reductionist in the Philip Glass style, and more of a modernist return to essence. Rather than those jingles expanded cheaply by the use of arpeggios for which Glass is mainly known, Moult approaches a freedom and flexibility that brings to mind the impressionist influence of Debussy through Satie. There is, however, a sternness, a seriousness, that lends ‘The Five Daughters’ of Moult a weight —gravitas, even— where Debussy seemed to channel a wild, childish imagination and Satie the careless aloofness that is found in inexperienced naïveté.

Perhaps influenced by the more linear, avant-garde thinking of British prog rock musical genius, compositions in Ethe drive forward, and evolve. This feat is accomplished elegantly and remaining within artistic voice and musical style, having no need to make use of superficial gimmicks to communicate said evolution of thought. Like Genesis or King Crimson, Moult crafts of a clear and expressive narrative thread which sometimes braids, and at other times untangles until a thin line alone remains. It is also, then, even more appropriate to compare Ethe to works by Robert Fripp such as The Gates of Paradise, or to make a note of Klaus Schulze’s early work, whose methodology and style differs immensely but whose end result is not necessarily so far off from this aural search, these ripples over the calm of dead stillness.

Timeless Melancholy is seemingly intertwined with a longing for eternity, perhaps knowingly doomed to fail but nonetheless ever extending in the direction of that unreachable paradox. For the archetype and symbol as objects of concentration and aim are always a mirage, and it is in our reaching that we become and discover ourselves. In so doing, in ripping away the illusion, great suffering is incurred, an anguish that is made patent throughout Ethe. In its expression of development and transformation (purposely avoiding the use of the word ‘growth’ or ‘progress’), the longing and anguish here expressed is not one for one’s own life, but for a distant, almost mythological form: something beyond one’s own causal existence, the presence of which may be felt more keenly by virtue of the meaningful, painful passion of one’s own experience.

Pensive at first and mystically alienating in its conclusion, this collection of compositions could be described as a journey starting on a starlit night facing the ocean, and ending in an inscrutable cave beyond an old forest’s Hallow , whence the offspring of Azanigin spring forth. A black-skinned terror of horrific beauty, shifting through the fog; a progeny of serpents intermingling in orgiastic trance; unfathomable dark waters from the depths. Ethe can be thus heard, experienced, as an unfolding destiny, a discovery born of primordial suspicion, unto a dissolution of illusory individuality into the realization of one’s role in a larger reality that is a species’ fluctuation within an unfathomable (to the common, daylight mind) cosmos.


“I wanted to explore uncharted, forbidden landscapes – to visit and dwell in other dimensions, and to communicate and learn from other hitherto unknown beings; to return Home, as I understood it.” —Richard Moult, Myndsquilver