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Richard Moult is an English composer, painter and poet who has worked with Far Black Furlong, Agitated Radio Pilot, Michael Tanner (Plinth) and United Bible Studies. Richard draws his inspiration from landscapes and his living in isolated and wilderness areas. For many years, he has drawn a vast discography of classical songs, piano pieces, orchestral string works, lieders, spiritual chants, ambiant music. Richard regards his current mode of composing as a more effective means to allow the spirits of Nature to presence themselves.
"Following the 2008 tour of America's East Coast with United Bible Studies, I spent several months on the East Sussex coast composing and recording material which would form the basis of the album 'Ethe' and much later, 'Rodorlihtung'. Additionally, I recorded a series of piano pieces which then accompanied me throughout the next five years of solitary travelling. These pieces evolved in tandem with my inner and outer journeyings, forged by the landscapes of the North West Scottish mainland, and the Hebridean Islands. Thanks to guest musicians and friends - in particular my fellow Bible Students David Colohan, Áine O'Dwyer, Oscar Strik and Michael Tanner - this music gradually evolved to become the ensemble works which comprise 'Aonaran'. " (Richard Moult)
Aonaran is the second United Bible Studies related release we’ve covered in the past month, following Raising Holy Sparks’ For Fran. David Colohan, Michael Tanner and other friends are present here as well, and the release is presented on Delphine Dora’s label Wild Silence. With such a pedigree, one has faith that the release will be of high quality, and one is correct to make such an assumption.
The five pieces here was composed over a period of five years, inspired by travels in northwest Scotland and the Hebridean Islands. ”I could learn to live with the roll of these hills, trace out the dream meander of the fog as it spills down to where the river splits in two,” sings Colohan over Moult’s delicate piano phrases. But as much as “Gone to Ground” is an song of landscape, it’s also an ode to autumn loss: ”I’m sorry that I said our love was like a shadow slowly growing darker, slowly growing larger, and now gone to ground while the days start to run down.” These are the last words of a mostly instrumental album, and they linger over the last ivory notes. The album has its theme – few words are needed to establish such a thing – and the rest of the album can be seen in this slowly fading light.
The cover demonstrates the distance between this album and its happier contemporaries; a similar scene is pictured on Tanner’s The Cloisters, albeit brighter and visited by flowers. Aonaran is the cold landscape, the barren field: ”the sky slate grey and the beach jet black, and I never felt so lonely, a loss you can’t measure.” Too much of this would be overwhelming, so it’s a fortunate event that the centerpiece, “Rionnag Mór”, is twenty-four and a half minutes of instrumental bliss. (Fran, have you contacted Dave yet?) The piece rises from a bed of subdued chimes and piano, descends into a few dark places, but emerges intact. Oboe, viola, harp and bowed guitar add richness and depth. The fullest track on the album, “Rionnag Mór” has the feel of a group of friends who drop by to offer solace and encouragement, and this may be the literal case as well. Glimpses of hope emerge like flowers in an outstretched hand. One knows that the friends will eventually need to leave, and that melancholy reflection will return, but one hopes that a little light and color will linger in their wake. - Richard Allen
Richard Moult is a name that might not be familiar to everyone, but to those in the know (and there are a few of us who wait eagerly for each new release from the man) he is the master composer behind Far Black Furlong, a regular contributor to Tony Wakeford’s Orchestra Noir, a member of Ireland’s premier wyrd folksters United Bible Studies and an extremely talented poet and artist in his own right.
His latest solo release, Aonaran, is a shimmering and windswept piece, an island of lovely yet heart rending songs that deserves to be widely loved and heard. Album opener ‘Rionnag Bheag’ begins with the shiver of Oscar Strik’s percussion and Áine O’Dwyer’s harp (sounding not unlike a waterfall) providing a gentle yet foreboding introduction, a description that could well describe much of this release. The following ‘Heartsease’, featuring the vocals of fellow Bible Studies musician David Colohan, is truly heartbreaking. A desolate plea seemingly to the landscape itself, it reminds this listener of John Cale’s suicidal opus ‘Music for a New Society’.
Indeed, much of this album echoes with a genuine sense of loss and empty space. It is no surprise that Moult lives rurally; there is a sense of the land to be found in his music that suggests wintery beaches and barren, lonely hills. Moult himself credits the North West of Scotland and the Hebrides as ‘forging’ these pieces. The wild nature of this land is perfectly evoked on instrumental album centrepiece ‘Rionnag Mor’. Cascades of piano collide with Michael Tanner (of Plinth)’s bowed guitar, an air of unease and distant thunder in the air, settling occasionally to leave moments of quiet hope appearing through the disquieting squall of flute, harp and electronics. As the track builds (it is a mighty 24 minutes long) the storm clouds gather apace and then part every so often as the other instrumentation fades to leave only the sole piano. It’s at once both incredibly evocative and deeply sad.
David Colohans’s vocals return on ‘Gone To Ground’, providing a reserved yet plaintive tone to the now hushed proceedings. ‘Mesonycticon’, the album closer, is a reflective and sombre piano piece, ending this most impressive and personal of albums on a note of melancholy beauty.
The album itself comes in a lovely gatefold CD sleeve with transparent covering and a photograph of distant hills by Richard Moult himself. It is a beautiful package from the impressive Wild Silence label that reflects the care and attention in the music itself. I can’t recommend this highly enough. No-one else (apart from perhaps Richard Skelton) is consistently making albums of this calibre and ilk. This is nature’s own music. - Grey Malkin
with United Bible Studies
with Far Black Furlong
with Orchestra Noir