Poppy Ackroyd: 'I asked them to create as many weird and wonderful sounds as they could'
- Arusa Qureshi
- 12 April 2018
Blurring the boundaries between classical, modern pop and electronica
Lauded for challenging classical music's status quo and more formal generic conventions, neo-classicism has found some heavyweights in the form of German trio Nils Frahm, Max Richter and Hauschka, alongside the likes of Nico Muhly and Ólafur Arnalds. Their blurring of boundaries between classical styles, modern pop and electronic registers has resulted in an overlapping of worlds, with new audiences becoming accustomed to classical tropes. As a more recent addition to this skilled generation of contemporary composers and musicians, Poppy Ackroyd makes use of similar stylistic devices, but pushes further towards melodic and rhythmic synchronicity in her minimalist landscapes.
In 2017, Ackroyd signed to Bjork's One Little Indian label, releasing mini-album Sketches shortly after. Labelled her most progressive and ambitious work to date, her new self-produced, full-length collection Resolve features guest instrumentalists for the first time, with Manu Delago (hang), Mike Lesirge (flute / clarinet) and Jo Quail (cello) augmenting Ackroyd's unique piano and violin refrains.
'With the other musicians, I asked them to explore the instrument and to create as many weird and wonderful sounds as they could,' Ackroyd says about the process. 'I then spent hours sifting through the recordings and choosing sounds and short percussive ideas that I could rearrange and build the track from. The opening of "The Calm Before" is built out of the clicking of clarinet keys, and "Quail" starts with eerie sounding harmonics.'
Resolve is filled with interesting and unorthodox sonic experimentations but the album as a whole is more personal in its thematic content. 'It's about the determination to embrace the good things in life whilst dealing with unexpected and challenging difficulties,' she explains. 'And finding light in the dark, facing sadness and loss head on, and developing a growing inner strength.' Resolve is a mature and bold record from Ackroyd, placing the composer in the same domain as some of the neo-classical, post-minimalist wunderkinds.
Glad Cafe, Glasgow, Thu 10 May; Queen's Hall, Edinburgh, Fri 11 May, and touring.