Poppy Ackroyd + Lumen :: Escapement Visualised (Denovali)

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

If you get your hands on a copy of Poppy Ackroyd & Lumen‘s Escapement Visualised DVD, you’ll be able to benefit from a new and unique artifact that contains explorative sonic architecture and visual wonder combined in enchantingly synchronized dances of poetic mutual intensification. Edinburgh’s Poppy Ackroyd is known for her role in the adventurous Hidden Orchestra, playing keyboards and violin, but also for her intriguing lovely solo debut album, Escapement (Denovali, 2012) and the solo live performances that followed its release and were accompanied by Lumen’s tailor-made visuals.

Lumen (Bristol-based visual artist Tom Newell) and Ackroyd met in 2013 when Lumen was working on Hidden Orchestra’s new audio/visual show, which later on received praises around the UK and Europe. A collaboration was conceived in order to develop visuals for Ackroyd’s live shows, and as press release states: “After live performances with the visuals over the last 12 months, requests from audiences have prompted the release of the music and visuals combined.” As a result, Escapement Visualised was created and is now finally available for us to experience. Press release also states this DVD is a dream coming true for Ackroyd, who “often dreamed that her first album would be accompanied by a collection of short films, animations or live dance performances.”

First, Escapement. Ackroyd is an experimentalist. She explores the unconventional within the conventional, and intertwines them to create unique pieces of music. Escapement contains seven of these pieces. The album is almost entirely made out of piano and violin sounds, both conventional and unconventional. The other ingredients are field recordings. Escapement is delicate and fragile yet intricate and highly effective. A bewitching, intimate and truly refreshing album that adds a lot of panache to the more experimental territories of the modern classical genre.

An evocative match between music and visuals. Lumen has manage to form mini-films that fit the abstract nature of the music and intensify its strong soulful glow without forcing any particular stories—a tricky task to perform. All in beautiful black and white, Escapement Visualised leaves almost as much space for the consumer’s own interpretation as Escapement does. Whether it’s the shapeshifting lively landscapes in “Aliquot,” the pensive car ride in “Rain,” the living insides of the piano in “Lyre,” the hallucinatory charm in “Glass Sea” or the expressive solo dance in “Grounds,” there’s always a sense of experiencing something mystical, like watching someone else’s memories or dreams.

Beautiful artwork an packaging are essential parts of every Denovali release. Escapement Visualised comes incased in a stylish thick gatefold sleeve with letterpress covers and a 12-page booklet. If you haven’t heard of Ackroyd before, getting Escapement Visualised and Escapement as a package would be the perfect way to get into her musical world. Both of these gems provide a powerful experience. The DVD comes just in the right time, reminding us how special Ackroyd’s music is just before her second solo album, Feathers, is about to be released in November, on Denovali, of course.

Escapement Visualised is available on Denovali.

Live photos by Simon Bierwald. Portrait by Kat Gollock.

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