Kelly Moran regularly composes music for prepared piano, inserting objects between piano strings in order to produce a wider, more percussive range of tones. Instead of sounding stiff and academic like the prepared piano works of John Cage, however, Moran's pieces are much more vibrant, even ecstatic. The tracks on her 2018 album, Ultraviolet, originate from a series of improvisations recorded during a burst of creativity one epiphanic day. Rather than composing pieces rigorously, Moran simply let the music flow; after recording several hours of improvisations, she edited them and added electronics in order to form these songs. The result is far more expressive than one might expect from an album of prepared piano music. While there are several sparse, spacious moments, the album's lengthier pieces develop into dense sections of cascading, spiraling notes. Moran's playing is precise, but never contained by time signatures or conventional structures, and it always sounds free and unbridled. The additional electronic backing emphasizes the hypnotic qualities of Moran's piano playing, but never drowns it out. A few tracks feature additional production and synth work by Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never), whom Moran has toured with, and his presence is particularly unmistakable on "Water Music." Later on in the album, "Halogen" is much starker, with dizzying clusters of notes pushed to the forefront and more traditional-sounding piano tones interspersed. Ultraviolet is a remarkable album that blurs the lines between jazz improvisation, modern composition, and ambient electronic music, forming its own musical language.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson