Andrew Poppy’s Ark Hive of A Live continues to be met with enthusiasm and delight. As False Walls’ most ambitious release to date (4 CDs, plus book and slipcase), we’re sharing some extracts from reviews and social media below. Over an hour of the Ark Hive can be streamed here.
Robin Rimbaud on Instagram:
Ark Hive of A Live by British composer Andrew Poppy (b.1954) has just arrived and it’s an absolutely beautiful production. I first became familiar with Poppy’s work when he was part of seminal British ensemble, The Lost Jockey, whose work still stands tall today. I went to hear them perform live several times in the early 1980s and still own their sadly limited discography – one LP, one cassette and a 12” vinyl. Their work shared an attraction towards the minimalism school of American music, from Terry Riley, through Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Poppy then signed to Trevor Horn and Paul Morley’s Zang Tumb Tuum Records (ZTT) in 1984 and released the extraordinary The Beating of Wings album which I thoroughly recommend anyone take a listen to. I even contributed sleeve notes to a box set of recordings from this era at one point. Since then he’s released a truly vast body of inspiring work. This new 4 CD set, accompanied by a handsome 128 page book, acts as a place for unreleased music, apparently recorded live but treated, processed, added to and manipulated. I love that his work slips between genres with such ease, from electronica to ambient music, to operatic explorations to contemporary classical music. At points cranky cowboy guitars meet piano diversions, whilst percussion batters away, and synths softly float around the scene. Or cinematic strings go into battle with honking brass, and rapidly rolling lilting melodies chase them down. The publication is also fascinating as it features an an introduction by Paul Morley, and additional writings from Leah Kardos, Nik Bärtsch and Rose English. Definitely a release to treasure, and apparently it’s out officially today, which I never even realised writing this. And let’s be honest, his hair is a work of art in itself. I’ve heard that it even has its own postcode in London!
Brian Morton, Wire magazine:
The animating spirit is Poppy’s protean musical imagination, as light as wings beating one moment, thunderous and dark the next. … It’s not just an archive [but] otherwise unreleased works caught in live performance and gently transformed in the editing suite into the components of four well-shaped albums. … Poppy’s music is like Madagascar — you discover species there you don’t find anywhere else.
Downtown Music gallery, NYC, USA:
Each of the four CDs included has a different theme and different personnel with Mr. Poppy playing piano, drum machine, percussion, etc. There is quite a bit to take in with four discs and informative notes to read through. Disc or ‘Volume One’ begins with “Goodbye Piano Concerto” for piano, keyboards, guitar & percussion, all played by Mr. Poppy. It is an eerie, somewhat skeletal, minimalist piece with a slow central pulse which we can’t hear but it is there, buried below the surface. Although this piece is minimal, it does have a strong, suspense-filled vibe running throughout it. “Attempt at an Ecstatic Moment” and “Chewing the Corner” come from a larger piece called “Horn Horn”, six pieces for two solo saxes and orchestra. These pieces aresomewhat dark yet haunting, a bit solemn yet most stirring as well. “Chewing the Corner” raises the bar to a more uptempo, magical landscape with a stream of dreamy flutes and percussion plus some complex, kaleidoscopic orchestral parts. “Almost the Same Shame” is for piano and orchestra. The piano part sounds like a sped-up Philip Glass-like minimalist work. “Weighing the Measure” is for piano, drum machine percussion with bass clarinet & accordion. The music contains a series of drones, both soothing and a bit eerie. I still have to listen to the other three discs. I must admit that I am most impressed with the disc that I’ve heard and the great artwork & preparation that went into creating this lovely box set.
Not listened to any Andrew Poppy until now and l’ve got to say I feel like l’ve been missing out, as this compelling four-disc excursion aptly demonstrates. A superb series of endeavours embracing classical and avant flavours, Ark Hive Of A Live is full of improvised sparks and juddering disposition, the enclosed write-up full of fascinating insight.
Nieuwe Noten / New Notes:
A beautiful edition by the way, consisting of an extensive book and four CDs, together in a sturdy slipcase. A ‘must have’, as we say. And Poppy’s music fits perfectly into what I’ve been paying attention to for several weeks now: the minimalism in the music. Poppy also shows himself a descendant of this genre, although he is by no means limited to it.
The price of the package all but demands its purchase as one rarely sees a package this luxe at an affordable price like £30.00. There will be 500 of these dispersing through the world and fans of the beauty that Mr. Poppy brings to the music would do well to invest …