Kelly Moran at Band on the WallJohnny James, Managing Editor
Kelly Moran knows what she’s doing. Across five albums of intricately arranged electro-acoustic compositions, she has been the sole engineer and producer. Far from being where her talents end, she is also a brilliant pianist and an even better composer. 2017’s Bloodroot was a startling showcase of all of this, with 11 gorgeously dissonant, delicate and strange little compositions which saw the New York-based artist marry the prepared piano with electro-acoustic techniques. The tracks ‘Celandine’ and ‘Bloodroot’ shone particularly brightly.
Tim Hecker-level textures and Philip Glass-level hypnotism
Though Bloodroot won high praise from the likes of Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and The New York Times, Moran looks back on that album as being just a touch too clever. Enter 2018’s Ultraviolet, a record in which Moran decided to change tact. Much like John Cage, to whom anyone writing within the realm of the prepared piano is indebted, she started listening to the rhythms and frequencies of the natural world. She asked herself how she could make music that felt as natural, connected and effortless as what she heard there. The answer, she decided, was to put down the manuscript paper, and to follow her intuition.
“By re-examining my process as an artist, I freed myself”, Moran explains. “Accordingly, I ended up with songs that were more untethered, less inhibited.” A minute into the first track, ‘Helix’, and it’s apparent what she means. Like in many tracks on this record, ‘Helix’ features a stark and cyclical prepared piano figure in the right hand which dances through a gorgeous soundworld of hazy synths and ghostly effects. The track ‘In Parallel’ is another highlight, featuring Tim Hecker-level textures and Philip Glass-level hypnotism. It’s a mesmerising combination.
As to how she performs all of this live, well, why not see for yourself? For a mere tenner you can do just that at Band on the Wall on the 4 April.