Poppy Ackroyd Escapement

Mon 7th January 2013


/incoming/popak.jpgNestled in Poppy’s beehive, compositions of multitracked violin and piano.

Presently based out of Edinburgh, and maybe that’s where I’d end up, the old stone of the city proper against the sound of the coast, the river’s mouth opened wide. Sound flows out in a meditative pulse, plucking at frayed nerves, trying to untangle the knots.

There’s a problem with time and space, with the mood of the music versus the mood of the listener. If the listener finds themselves at odds with the music, can there be reconciliation and catharsis? Music that is powerful enough can cut through, rearrange time and space for as long as its minutes pass.

The absurdity of a literary conceit in a comic about 90s Britpop, music as magic. But that is a truth. Music is a spell we cast on ourselves to kill death, to alter mood, to summon the undead and the yet to live. It’s getting harder all the time, for me at least. I am mired in preconceptions, I can feel my tastes hardening, ossifying. My brain is more bone than muscle now, less flexible beneath aural flow. I have a philosophy, a theory, a set of mores and tastes I apply to what I hear. I pass judgement, I categorise. So many of us do. It’s part of our nature, pattern recognition. Even when patterns aren't there. That’s called apophenia. Like shapes in clouds.

Poppy Ackroyd. I want to categorise her, throw her in with the composers and the cinematic. But her music, if it was made with machines, would live like the softer side of IDM or electronica. I prefer this, right now, the acoustic instruments, the sense of space and place she has weaved, the sounds in the depths of rain and birds and nature. Field recordings, there is life in here. I've said words, put in categories, but let me take them out again. Music moves you or it does not. I went in unsure, living as I do in ever-decreasing circles of taste, my adherence to specificity.

Here, I want to throw that out.

Ms Ackroyd composes, certainly, but she does not seem slavish to what has come before. There are melodic moments, pensive moments, things approaching the abstract and the ambient, there are broad brush-strokes, detailed pointillism, photographs, moving pictures, colours, shapes. There is something in here that conjures all these whilst remaining a cohesive and whole album.

Maybe I am imprinting, mirroring, but this is one of those rare moments where I sense a purpose and personality behind the music, instrumental as it is. No domineering voice, not the singer-songwriters, and yet this works as well. This, you can tell, is the work of one person, and a beautiful work at that.

I can feel the knots unravelling, emptying my head out into somewhere placid and nameless. This is every rainy morning in the winter so far, the light piercing the sky with a pale intensity. But that is within the confines and clichés of my own head. Escapement does something though, it does summon images, words, thoughts, in the listener. It affects, it moves. It does it in a way few things I've heard do for me these days. That is a rare thing.


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