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Kelly Moran: Bloodroot

Dan McClenaghan By

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Kelly Moran: Bloodroot It seems that pianist Kelly Moran's approach to crafting her artistry requires a trip to Home Depot, for the purchase of a variety of screws and bolts. An observer of this purchase might assume an imminent assembly of a back yard patio set, but in reality, these items—among other things—are destined for insertion inside Moran's piano, between the piano strings, creating alterations to the vibrations, resulting in sounds you may never have heard before. It's called "prepared piano," a page from the playbook of avant classical composer John Cage's late-1940s works, Sonata's And Interludes. But Moran—who studied under Kei Akagi an University of Irvine—takes the Cage idea a step further, with the use of e-bows and electronics on her ambitious Bloodroot.

The alteration of the piano's sound, via inserted objects, abetted by the electronic aspects of samples and ebows, unleashes a world of sonic possibilities. Moran harnesses these possibilities to create a sound at once simple and complex, modern and antiquarian, eerie and beautiful and, oddly, suffused with a sort of alien sacredness, like a soundtrack to an extraterrestrial (Frank Herbert's Dune world, perhaps) civilization.

The initial impression that comes to mind with Bloodroot, from the opening track, "Celandine," is of a harpsichord. Certain preparations flatten the piano's resonance to create this impression. Then there are gong-like notes, ringing with rich overtones. Moving on to the third composition, "Freesia," a sampled e-bow lays out an electro-drone beneath singing piano notes. "Hyancinth" features strummed and plucked piano strings, and with the title tune Moran employs a "live e-bow on the piano strings" combined with prepared piano that results in a subtle orchestral atmosphere.

There is also, with the entirety of Bloodroot, the impression of the experience of micro-tones, of hearing notes between the notes, unique new sounds—an important part of the beguiling component of the music.

The door is wide open for Moran and her style of music making. She steps boldly through that door on Bloodroot. The future possibilities are limitless.

Track Listing: Iris; Celandine; Freesia; Hyacinth; Liatris; Bloodroot; Calla; Statice; Aster; Limonium; Heliconia.

Personnel: Kelly Moran: prepared piano, sampled e-bows, live e-bows.

Title: Bloodroot | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Telegraph Harp


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