Poppy Ackroyd has had a busy year it would seem. Many will know her as the talented violinist and pianist of the Hidden Orchestra whose superb second album launched in September to a positive review from us, however there appears to be a lot more to her than that. The classically trained Edinburgh based musician is now close to the release of her debut solo effort Escapement (due December 2012). A heartbreakingly beautiful record of intricate and very delicate compositions made exclusively, bar the odd field recording here and there, using the piano and the violin. It’s a wonderful idea and is executed to perfection to the point if you weren’t aware this was the case you probably wouldn’t question it.
“The seven tracks are a combination of piano melodies and chords – played both conventionally or created inside the piano using fingers, e-bows and plectrums – violin textures, melodies and pizzicato riffs and finally delicate beats composed of hits, plucks, taps and scrapes made using hands, drumsticks, beaters and small cymbals on either the frame, strings or dampers of the piano. There are often five or more different percussive lines working alongside each other.” – Excerpt from Denovali Records
A good album can be many things, but one that can move you on any level is an achievement that not every artist or musician can attest to, this is exactly what makes Escapement such a fantastic record. It’s overflowing with emotion; a sense of calm precision, beautiful yet haunting all at once. Tracks build, layering on more and more detail and shift effortlessly. While a little on the short side with a running time of just over 31 minutes spread across the seven tracks, it consistently satisfies as a complete piece and the length can be forgiven when you reach the end and realise how quickly the last half an hour has passed.
Purists may scoff at the experimental idea and methods involved, however Escapement manages to intelligently make use of the piano and violin, two very traditional and extensively used instruments, in ways that many people wouldn’t even consider and most importantly at no expense to the quality of the music. The execution proves there is more to this Modern Classical gem and that in terms of composition, production and musicianship it is a absolute triumph.
Escapement is available now on mp3 and to preorder on CD and Vinyl from the Denovali store.
01. Aliquot (4:32)
02. Rain (5:10)
03. Seven (3:46)
04. Glass Sea (4:54)
05. Lyre (4:06)
06. Grounds (4:44)
07. Mechanism (4:14)