Poppy Ackroyd is following her emotive solo piano collection ‘Pause’ with a four track EP of gorgeous reworks.
Courtesy of One Little Independent Records ~ release date October 21, 2022
A force to be reckoned with” – Electronic Sound
“On par with neo-classical giants Nils Frahm, Max Richter and Hauschka” – MOJO
“Poppy Ackroyd can conjure whole worlds of sound out of the barest essentials” – Stereogum
Poppy Ackroyd is following her emotive solo piano collection ‘Pause’ with a four track EP of gorgeous reworks. She builds layers of interactive melodies and countermelodies, as well as percussive elements from the piano, to put emphasis on the dramatic tension of her soundscapes and further the narratives of her sonic adventures.
The embellishments are subtle but effective on EP opener ‘Pause’, with its additional, playful percussion and dexterous finger work, while the new version of ‘Stillness’ elevates the original – a relaxed, nurturing lullaby – to a concordant and balanced epic. ‘Suspended’ is a slow building complexity that rises and falls with elegant theatrics, and ‘Unravel’ drifts cinematically to a close, tying up the collection neatly.
Poppy tells us; “As I was writing and recording some of the tracks for Pause I felt that I wanted to expand on the sound world for some of the tracks, particularly the four tracks that use sounds from inside the piano – Suspended, Stillness, Pause and Unravel. I decided to again limit myself to just the piano as a sound source so there was a direct connection between the rework EP and the album, so apart from the use of a pinecone to generate some percussive ideas for Suspended all the sounds are from the keyboard body, frame and inside of the piano itself.
I used the pinecone as it was to hand after working on a soundtrack for a recent animation where I was creating instruments for woodland creatures, and I loved the way it combined with the sounds of the piano percussion. Maybe because the piano frame is made from wood, but they work really nicely together. There are multiple percussive layers for each track, using drumsticks, chopsticks, plectrums, and my hands I have created heavier and lighter percussive lines. Bass lines which were not possible for some of the original solo piano versions on the Pause album, as both hands were already engaged, add a depth and then high layers of selected improvised flowing melodic lines widen the range of the music making it into something more expansive.
There was also an element of remixing myself. Treating the tracks and source material in the same way I would if I was working on someone else’s track. I have played with the structure of most of the tracks, at times removing whole sections and so some of the pieces are very different from the originals. They all have a very different energy. In some ways it illustrates how I have worked on previous albums, I often come up with simpler ideas with two hands on the piano and then develop and expand them into more layered compositions.”
Poppy Ackroyd is a performer, composer and producer from London, currently based in Brighton. Classically trained on piano and violin, she fell in love with the piano beyond the keyboard, discovering the world of sound that can be made from other parts of the instrument. As well as conventional playing styles she employs extended techniques, utilizing the piano’s strings and frame as well as the keyboard, and the body of the violin as well as the strings. By manipulating and multi-tracking recordings of these sounds, the resulting compositions build into a cohesive, expressive and unique sonic world.
Across her back catalogue, from 2012’s ‘Escapement’ to 2021’s ‘Pause’ she explores themes both personal and abstract, and drives all aspects of the creative process herself down to making etchings for the album covers. This commitment to her craft is felt clearly in her inimitable and intimate live shows.
Ackroyd signed to One Little Independent in 2017 and she is published by Manners McDade. Performing on violin, piano and keyboards, her work with Joe Acheson’s live project Hidden Orchestra has taken her all over the world. Her collaborations with animators and filmmakers have been multi-award-winning and her music has been used extensively in TV, radio, documentaries and films, as well as by leading dance companies.