Poppy Ackroyd
Escapement


4.0
excellent

Review

by Hernan M. Campbell STAFF
January 27th, 2013 | 20 replies | 3,944 views


Release Date: 01/22/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

I've always preferred instrumental music over all other variations within the art form. Not that I don't enjoy the sound of a singer's voice from time to time, but I often find myself developing a more intimate connection with a song when the music exuded solely from the instruments themselves is the central point of focus. I have a ritual that I enjoy doing when listening to an instrumental piece, whether it be Jazz or Classical music, I always lay back and close my eyes during the whole experience of it all. Alleviating all other senses and simply taking in every note and every vibration that enters my ear. I free myself of all thoughts, and let the mood of the song paint a scene or image in my head. Though sometimes, I find that a song can have the ability to completely take me away from my surroundings. Helping me ascend to an undiscovered, or seldom visited realm within my own mind. If the tone of the song is melancholic, I'll either find myself envisioning scenes within my own life that were heartbreaking or disappointing in some way, or my imagination will illustrate its own visual interpretation of that mood. It's amazing how music has the ability to do this. It doesn't just have to be a mere union of sounds that enter the ear, it can be an experience far more abstract than that.

Poppy Ackroyd's Escapement is an aptly named debut because, despite being a reference to piano mechanics, it also references the thematic concept of the album. The music is meant to provide a momentary departure from reality that really takes its listener away into its own trancing environment, offering a perceptual experience filled with melodic splendor. Escapement is of a rather different nature than that encountered in the albums of Poppy Ackroyd's primary musical group, Hidden Orchestra. Escapement is just as elaborate in its aesthetics, but this album is a bit more personal, as we find Poppy Ackroyd exploring her influences within classical music rather than expanding on the nu-jazz sound of Hidden Orchestra. The album opens with "Aliquot", which really does a great job of foreshadowing the overall style of the album. This song has a kind of subtle dynamism to it, it isn't a spontaneous piece by any means, but there is a constant evolution in its musicianship that tends to express a spectrum of moods and textures. It begins with a weary piano introduction, just a few notes played to provide a calm setting. The strokes of a violin soon enter into the scene, and though it has its moments of mild vigor so as to add a bit of compelling moments into the song, it never ceases to augment the soothing sound of "Aliquot". Both the piano and violin work together thematically throughout the album. There are virtually no other instruments present within Escapement, because frankly, Poppy Ackroyd has proven that they were simply not needed. She deploys a very unorthodox approach to both instruments, manipulating their sounds to convey something beyond their ordinary characteristics to create unusual timbres and textures. For example, in "Aliquot", we can hear the presence of a guitar within the song, but it is actually her simply plucking the strings of the violin to mirror the nuance of a guitar.

Some of the main highlights of the album are "Rain" and "Glass Sea", two very different songs that exhibit a contrasting arrangement of rhythms and harmonics, yet the two offer a similar enriching experience that nourishes and deepens the whole concept of the album, proving that simplicity can at times be the pinnacle of sophistication. As it name implies, "Rain" begins with the sound of pouring drops falling on a surface. As the rainfall cleanses the scenery, Poppy Ackroyd begins to maneuver a shuffling beat on the violin that sets up a rhythmic framework for the piano arrangements to work upon. Though as "Rain" reaches its musical apex, the piano silently descends to the background, letting the violin take up the spotlight as it expresses a compelling yet pensive sense of melancholia. This is one of those songs that has you withdraw into some other space within your mind. The melody just has this alleviating sensation that relaxes the soul while coaxes the mind to indulge in imagination. It's like this song is offering itself to be the soundtrack to whatever scene our thoughts can create. "Glass Sea", on the other hand, is much more active than atmospheric. The piano notes here are lively and overwhelmed with enthusiasm. There's a lot of changes in tempo happening in this one piece, as we can hear Poppy Ackroyd alternating her dynamics on the piano. The song is composed by a burst of rapid notes that act as a framework, but we constantly witness her throwing in a few rhythmic variations to add some spontaneity to the music, whether it be a repetitive chord sequence in the piano's middle register to augment the solos or just a quick and discreet glissando touch for effect. "Glass Sea" is really more about the notes being played rather than the emotion they convey, being where Poppy Ackroyd's dexterity for the piano really shines to the point of awe.

In my introductory paragraph I talked about the experience of losing oneself in music, to let the sounds and melodies cleanse away anything that is undesirable within the mind so that it's free to indulge in tranquility. Escapement is an album that offers just that to the listener, it contains songs that simply exist to guide the mind to a meditative state in which we are able to transcend our reality, if only for a brief moment in time. "Lyre" is one of my personal favourites from the entire album because it is very spacious. It has a rather minimalistic composition, just a few notes performed on the piano, a couple brushes upon strings, and a muted thump that acts as a percussive beat. From a musical standpoint, it's nothing special, but the atmosphere it portrays accomplishes more than any invigorating solo or chord arrangement I've ever heard. "Lyre" is more about garnering an emotional response from the listener than impressing them with some display of technical grandeur. You can really get lost in this piece. It's like it defies the laws of space and time, the second it starts your mind dwells into an array of thoughts and daydreams, with this song merely acting as background music to wherever it is that you've descended to. And then, after a moment of deep reflection in thought, you notice a silence. The song is over. It was 4 minutes long, yet you feel as though you barely pressed the play button. And that was the purpose of "Lyre", to provide a moment of introspection. It's gentle, ethereal, and almost hypnotic, it's the soundtrack to your catharsis. I highly encourage this album to anyone who is a fan of music in general. Don't let the 'Classical' tag discourage you, this is a surprisingly accessible album. It's certainly intellectual, but only in its concept, the music itself is as euphonic and engaging as can be. Let the delicacy of Escapement be your ascension into serenity. Approach it with an open mind and just simply detach yourself from the world for a little while.



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user ratings (16)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
January 27th 2013



4334 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sorry for the late upload, I had a hard time trying to find a decent download for this album. But here's my write up for it.

This is a link to "Ground"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ootIYurEu9c

This review was also uploaded at these fine sites:
http://www.thealtreview.net/
http://mediasnobs.com/

Typhoner
January 27th 2013



738 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"I had a hard time trying to find a decent download for this album."

dude, you can buy it for few money's or spotify it ;-)

Anyway, I absolutely love this album. It's just so fresh... I thought about reviewing it myself, but didn't find the time (or the words). So I'm glad you did it, because it really, really deserves the attention.


Digging: A Made Up Sound - Night Owl

Typhoner
January 27th 2013



738 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh yeah, nice review. Pos.

But of course, there's nothing new in the "unconventional" use of the instruments, people have been doing this for centuries. But Ackroyd does it very well, obviously.

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
January 27th 2013



4334 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I ended up buying it, even though I was originally looking for the cheap way to getting it as I already wasted enough money as it is lately. I was looking to put it on my itouch so I could listen to it on the go and get a good feel for the album, but I am glad I bought it, it's indeed an amazing album.


SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
January 27th 2013



4334 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I didnt say it was new, I said it was "unorthodox". But I get what you mean. Honestly, I love her style. She's such an amazing musician, I really want to see her live one day.

Typhoner
January 27th 2013



738 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"as I already wasted enough money as it is lately"

I know the feeling.

The only bad thing about the album is that it makes me sad that I missed her concert in Brussels (together with Carlos Cipa). Luckily I had the chance to see her with Hidden Orchestra, which was also great, but still...

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
January 27th 2013



4334 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I dont really know Carlos Cipa, but I imagine it must have been incredible. I've only heard Hidden Orchestra's albums, but never seen them live myself, but it's nice to you hear you enjoyed yourself. I bet they have a great set.

Typhoner
January 27th 2013



738 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"I dont really know Carlos Cipa, but I imagine it must have been incredible."

Well, I heard his album (Denovali even made it a free download for a week or so), but it isn't nearly as good as this one. He is skilled and all, but his music isn't as, well yeah, fresh as Ackroyd's.

"I bet they have a great set"
Oh yes, they do.

scissorlocked
January 27th 2013



3479 Comments


must be good

... and another pos for paper

Digging: Fantastic Mr Fox - Sketches

bodiesinflight57
January 27th 2013



866 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is a lovely little record.

GiaNXGX
January 27th 2013



4867 Comments


whoa, magnificent review. Loved your introductory paragraph bro, I really identify myself with what
you said. I would add krautrock to those haha. I'm going to listen to this one for sure 1000%.

CaptainDooRight
January 27th 2013



26270 Comments


link didn't work on my phone, but this looks swee, Pos'd

Digging: Deniro Farrar - The Patriarch II

Calc
January 27th 2013



10825 Comments


very interesting i like the song and good review. POS

Etrius
January 29th 2013



47 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I love electronica with a piano. To make it any good is a high art form. Most of the time this kind of music is bland and generic. Like the youtubelink very much though. Sexy lady on the piano. Need to get access to more songs.

Edit: Here is another one, actually the percussion is minimal so no electro more neoclassical
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUGadC3yf80


osmark86
August 29th 2013



2962 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this was very impressive. glad I'm seeing her in October. also a fan of Hidden Orchestra and I recommend them to anyone who likes music really.

Digging: Forss - Ecclesia

Typhoner
October 13th 2013



738 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice, this is currently sput's classical AOTY (not that it means that much or I care about that, but maybe it tricks some extra people in to checking this out)

Typhoner
December 6th 2013



738 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

still so good

Asdfp277
January 12th 2014



847 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

bump because this album is sweet, check this out, please? .-.

Typhoner
January 12th 2014



738 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yeah, almost a reason to hurry up making my 2013 album list, haha

clercqie
Contributing Reviewer
January 12th 2014



6248 Comments


Yeah this was cool. Thanks for the tip!

Digging: Amatorski - From Clay To Figures



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