In the New York Times’ “25 Best Classical Music Recordings of 2017” amongst the Bach, Berlin Philharmonic, Berlioz and piano concertos, sits Kelly Moran’s ‘Bloodroot‘. Mastered by black metal producer Colin Marsten and influenced by John Cage, Moran’s breakthrough album builds percussive gamalan-esque prepared piano into impressively technical and experimental structures.
Up to now, Kelly Moran’s work has been largely borne from a lifetime of classical training and, what must be, relatively tedious notation based composition – writing each note down using staff paper and contemplating chord changes. The result has perhaps put technicality before emotion – the output of which she self-deprecatingly describes as sounding like she is “trying really, really hard“.
The genesis of ‘Ultraviolet’, her first album for Warp Records, begins in a different place. Rather than wrestling with the formal aspects of musical structure, Moran sought inspiration in nature and, following an epiphanic commune with our dear Mother during a hike in the woods, was struck that she wanted to make music as ‘connected, effortless and fluid’ as nature itself.
And what strange relief it must then be to sit down at the piano and channel years of rigid academic training into simply letting the music flow through improvised emotion. These spontaneous results are found on ‘Ultraviolet’ and are simply glorious, taking her previous prepared piano (almost harpsichord) sound and releasing it from the encumbrances of intellectual music theory. Peals of notes swirl in rippling patterns with each piece forming a hallucinatory musical murmuration. Underpinned by subtle synth work, this arcing motion of sound is startlingly fluid – something perhaps only achievable with her new extemporaneous technique.
Elements of a spikier Lubomyr Melnyk spring to mind as a relative companion to Kelly Moran’s ‘Ultraviolet’, alongside a free form pliancy akin to The Necks live, or the supple improvisation of accomplished jazz players. That being, when freed appropriately, music has the ability to become a living, breathing creature of extraordinary beauty – something Moran has absolutely achieved here.
‘Ultraviolet’ is scheduled for release 2nd November 2018 via Warp Records, order a copy here.
3. Water Music
5. In Parallel