By Kira Grunenberg | Published January 2021
The title track of vibraphonist Simon Moullier’s debut, Spirit Song, offers a meaningful first impression—and summarizes the album’s intent. The melodic theme initially sounds unsettled; a steady sequence of notes played in unison by the bandleader and saxophonist Morgan Guerin incorporates raised and diminished pitches. But rather than being off-putting, the tonal curves play into the ethereal feel sewn into all of Moullier’s originals.
“Wind Chaser” further aligns timbres with the album’s sonic theme. Moullier’s finesse on vibraphone and synth is fully apparent, instilling the music with elegance. Though not in unison this time, the bold-toned vibraphone dances with the smooth touch of the synthesizer. The melody is clear enough to recognize, but the synth’s distorted sustain keeps it feeling unconfined, just like the wind. The inclusion of Jongkuk Kim’s nimble stick and cymbal taps don’t disrupt an imagined landscape, as images of leaves tumbling in the wind are evoked. Meanwhile, “Bala”—and its solo balafon—is a notable work, not just for its uncommon instrumental presentation, but also for highlighting Moullier’s broad cognizance of global connectivity and social impact.
Spirit Song: Spirit Song; Acceptance; Wind Chaser; I’ll Remember April; Beings Of Light; Prophecy; What If; Kenyalang; Bala. (47:31)
Personnel: Simon Moullier, vibraphone, synth, percussion; Morgan Guerin (1, 3, 5), Dayna Stephens (2, 7), saxophone; Isaac Wilson, (1, 3, 5), Simon Chivallon, piano (2, 4, 7, 8); Luca Alemanno, bass; Jongkuk Kim, drums.