Poppy Ackroyd performing at The Queen’s Hall Edinburgh was for me one of the pleasures of being a live music reviewer and being able to go and experience an artist that you have never heard before and discovering wonderful new music and sounds.
Who is Poppy Ackroyd? Answer is a classically trained pianist and violinist who as a composer and producer is using that classical background to explore her own music and sounds via traditional routes interwoven with some interesting use of multi tracking. Backing the music up are very carefully crafted videos.
Poppy Ackroyd has a new 10 track album out – RESOLVE (released February 2nd), and of course music from that featured strongly in this set, and performances of the title track “Resolve” and “The Calm Before” (amongst others) put this album on my “to buy” list to listen to in its entirety one day. Performances from earlier works including “Feathers” show not only a unique vision, but a clear development and progression of that vision into new music and sounds.
For a classically trained pianist like Poppy, The Queen’s Hall offers two great benefits – a wonderful piano to perform on and great natural acoustics in the performance hall, combine to make a very good venue for an instrumentalist to work. Visuals technology is, however, not what the venue is designed best for, so it would be interesting to see how this set transfers to a more high tech stage and larger digital screen as Poppy is a multi-media performer. The trade off would probably though come at the expense of natural acoustics.
There is no clear definition or box that Poppy Ackroyd can be labelled with, and I hope no one ever tries to. The end result is just beautiful music that along the way explores many different soundscapes. If there are any film makers out there reading this review, here is potentially one of the young composers to offer so much to the medium of film via soundtracks.
For more information about Poppy Ackroyd and her music visit
Opening act tonight was Glasgow based (originally from Finland) Maria Rossi aka Cucina Povera (named after a style of southern Italian traditional cooking associated with simplicity). Hilja is the debut album from “Cucina Povera”, and the multi tracking use of voice and other sounds to produce a unique audio landscape has already attracted some serious attention.
For myself, having a love of early Gregorian Chant and Plainsong, I found echoes here in this performance that evoked some of that music as we entered into an almost spiritual zone with the sounds produced; something very simple, but very evocative.
I suspect that Maria Rossi may for the moment be far more at home producing music and sounds in a recording studio (and there is nothing wrong with that) though as this seemed at times a very shy and almost introverted live performance, and with no introduction to the performance which was not in English, I think some of the creative concepts may have become a little lost in translation. Performers should of course not be expected to explain their work every time they take to a stage, but sometimes their personal insights into their music can open up new avenues for the audience to experience with them.
Having not heard the music of Poppy Ackroyd before this show, I was asking myself some questions about where the music of “Cucina Povera” was going to fit into tonight’s show, but once you look at both performers together, the answer is obvious. Both Poppy Ackroyd and Maria Rossi are explorers in sound.
Review by Tom King