There is a subtle irony in the title of Poppy Ackroyd‘s latest album Pause. It refers to the feeling of normal life being temporarily put on hold and was written during the convergence of two major events that would have unavoidable impact on creative process of this talented multi-instrumentalist & composer – the pandemic and the birth of her first child. The irony becomes apparent as one listens to the vibrant music she produced and realize that while life as it was before may have been disrupted, inspiration and creativity will find new ways to flow. As she openly shares, the key (no pun intended) was deciding that to focus strictly on a solo piano album and adapting to find the most conducive circumstances to write and record.
After having my son, I struggled to spend time sat in front of a computer. The only thing I wanted to do while he was still small, if I wasn’t with him, was to play the piano. In fact, much of the album was written with him asleep on me in a sling as I used any quiet moment to compose.
Pause is not an album that exudes hesitancy or stillness. Rather it moves with expressive fluidity that is borne of inventive composition and intense focus. The ten pieces it comprises are a melodic clockwork where the gears mesh with graceful precision. It may be a less elaborate machine than has featured on studio albums such as Resolve or her work on stage with Hidden Orchestra, but is no less elegant or affecting for the relative simplicity of its approach. Poppy Ackroyd leaves little doubt here that she can do more with a single piano than some can with a whole ensemble.
I used extended technique – playing with sounds from inside the instrument – like I do in my multi-tracked recordings, however it was important to me that every track on the album could be entirely performed with just two hands on the piano. There was a lightness and effortlessness to the recordings that I wanted that was only achievable after many hours of practice.
Pause has been released by One Little Independent Records digitally, on CD, and in a recycled vinyl edition which is also available in a special bundle with a signed & numbered reproduction of the album art originally created from an aquatint etching (limited to 100 copies).