I’d always viewed Vieo Abiungo as the rough hewn world music side of film composer and multi instrumentalist William Ryan Fritch’s musical personality. It’s actually somewhat of a surprise to learn that he’s created five albums under this moniker in the last ten years – but then he’s always been prodigious. At Once, There Was No Horizon is another epic widescreen fourth world wonder from Fritch, who manages to effortlessly imbue his tunes with both an evocative at times quite textural feel, but also a loose rambling sense of adventure. It’s music for discovery, where it feels like anything is possible.
It’s different from previous outings. For one thing there’s considerably more woodwind and horns, with Fritch playing contrabass clarinet, baritone and alto sax, flute, euphonium and flugelhorn. There are these beautiful, quite subtle moments of swirling woodwind, played less like riffs than circular eddies of sound that bubble up before disappearing again from view. Fritch thinks about music in different ways than most of us and his soundtrack work really allows him the confidence to create these amazing textures of atmospheric sound without feeling the need for a beat or to somehow songify proceedings.
His cadences are gentle and warm. Momentum always seems to come in a charming ramshackle way, almost like the pieces haven’t been composed, they’re just moving forward of their own volition. There’s something about Fritch’s inherent musicality that even the odd moment of atonality, a squeak here or a scrape there still sounds lush, carefully thought out and impossibly beautiful. It’s quite an achievement.
At Once, There Was No Horizon is a strange, beautiful and gentle album of fourth world melancholia that sees Fritch expand the palette incorporating new sounds and approaches, yet still manage to seduce and hypnotise in equal measure.