Kelly Moran Ultraviolet Review For Northern Transmissions

Warp Records

8.0/10

Kelly Moran

Ultraviolet

Offering listeners new textures and concepts of music has made Kelly Moran one to watch. From her keyboards, Moran is pulling out sounds that few are even trying to play with at all. Though this instrumental piece is devoid of strong hooks over a more flowing type of melody, it rarely leaves you searching for something beautiful or memorable.

Through all the mysterious rattling melodies of “Autowave” there’s a mysterious and horror-like omen around the track as its unclear origins and darker voicing warps the sound into something new. As a heavy bass undercurrent builds through the song, it does start to shine a more hopeful tone over the piece as a whole, while equally feeling foreboding. As each section of the song rotates in and out of focus, it becomes as much of a mood-piece as it is an attempt at something more accessible.

“Helix” itself magnifies this type of writing by intensely slow-burning its growth, and turning its unusually percussive piano string playing into a constantly evolving beast. As much as it can feel like a long lost film score, this track and others on the record show a sense of expanding dynamics and incremental writing that is stirring when taken in as a whole. With a much slower drive, “Water Music” beats around its percussive nature with an ambient flair, letting every rustle and small detail become part of its tapestry. While it takes a while for all these sounds to reverberate together, they become a warm and glowing collection that starts to overpower the listener as it moves on. It is inherently a more demanding listen with how drone-like and repetitive it is, but its soaring payoff is well worth the wait.

Moran takes off right away on “Nereid” with hooks tumbling over each other and the massive keyboard sounds behind it all slowly taking all remaining space on the track. Here we also hear hints of a more normal piano sound start to shimmer through the rapid runs as Moran flows through her trance-like playing. Through all the different shades that Moran applies to her soloing, there’s such a constant electricity to it that you’ll be genuinely shocked when 10 minutes have gone by.

While it doesn’t bring as many new concepts to the record, “In Parallel” starts to contrast all the different percussive tones and more heavy low-ends into the mix. This results in some truly menacing sonic rolls at points with Moran showing a penchant for unusual emotion. In the midst of it all, there’s also a handful weirdly syncopated sequences that feel gutturally satisfying in their mix of tempo and textural feeling. “Halogen” itself falls out like the final half of “In Parallel” with little behind the solo to define it otherwise. Moran breeds a feeling of chaos and searching in it, while a subtle sharper piano line hints at a sadness seen rarely in this album.

As things slow down for a final push on “Radian” the background noise takes over one last time for a kind of epilogue to the main drive of the album. In this way, the song gives a nice sense of closure amongst a lot of busy work before it.

Words by Owen Maxwell