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Kelly Moran

Kelly Moran is a classically trained composer and musician based in New York. While she has composed music for many instruments and performed in several avant-rock groups and experimental ensembles, she has received the most attention for her solo albums that marry prepared piano arrangements with ambient electronics. Following the surprise critical success of 2017's Bloodroot, she released the improvisation-based Ultraviolet in 2018. For 2024's Moves in the Field, Moran went in a different direction than her earlier prepared piano material, instead composing pieces that utilized a programmable, player piano-like instrument capable of superhuman musical feats. Moran decided to play piano at a very young age, despite the fact that none of her family members had a musical background. She studied piano performance, sound engineering, and composition at the University of Michigan before attending graduate school at the University of California, Irvine, where she composed electro-acoustic chamber music for modern dance performances as her master's thesis. She began releasing solo recordings in 2010, starting with Microcosms, followed by 2011's Movement, which featured pieces composed for dance performances in conjunction with choreographers Julia Cost, Randall Smith, and Susie Thiel. Moran's live recording One on One was issued in 2012. In addition to her solo work, Moran played bass alongside thrash-jazz drummer Weasel Walter in the band Cellular Chaos, synthesizer in Voice Coils, and piano in the Charlie Looker Ensemble. Following 2016's Optimist, Moran's Bloodroot was released by Telegraph Harp in 2017. Composed, produced, and performed entirely by Moran using prepared piano and electronics, the album received attention from Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times, which named it one of the best classical releases of the year. After its release, she began performing live with Oneohtrix Point Never, in addition to composing for pianist Margaret Leng Tan as well as percussion/piano quartet Yarn/Wire. Ultraviolet, based on a series of prepared piano improvisations with added electronics, was released by Warp in 2018. The next year, Moran returned with WXAXRXP Sessions, a five-song EP with selections from Ultraviolet recorded live in the studio for online radio station NTS. Moran's 2024 album Moves in the Field was in some ways less overtly experimental than her earlier works, with fewer abstract qualities and arrangements consisting of primarily acoustic piano. The pieces were created in part with a Disklavier, a programmable piano that Moran was able to write parts for that would be impossible for a single human to play. Her live playing mixed the Disklavier's lightning-fast arpeggios with hyper-complex chord voicings for a new chapter of her ambient piano composition. The album was released by Warp in March of 2024.
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