(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )

Lambent Materials (2003), 6.5/10
An Accidental Memory in Case of Death (2004), 6/10
Talk Amongst The Trees (2005), 7.5/10
Copia (2007), 6.5/10
Similes (2010), 5/10
Nightmare Ending (2013), 6/10
Inventions: Inventions (2014), 5/10
Inventions: Maze Of Woods (2015), 5.5/10
False Readings On (2016), 6/10
Shuffle Drones (2017), 4/10
Pianoworks (2019), 5/10
Virga I (2019), 5/10

Oregon's Eluvium is the project of ambient composer Matthew Cooper.

He debuted with the droning suites of the mini-album Lambent Materials (Temporary Residence, 2003). The short guitar tracks rehash ideas that have been tested before by musicians of the previous generation. There Wasn't Anything is a piano and horn sonata that has an amateurish charm. However, the centerpiece is the 15-minute Zerthis Was a Shivering Human Image, a simple massive tsunami of guitar distortion.

Cooper, instead, used only the piano for the pensive seven-movement suite of An Accidental Memory in Case of Death (2004).

He then returned to the guitar drones for Talk Amongst The Trees (Temporary Residence, 2005), whose centerpieces are the crystal waves and flickering refractions of New Animals from the Air and the gently wavering geometric 16-minute fantasia Taken, reminiscent of Johann Pachelbel's Variations (although its crescendo is far more insistent). But the album also includes the galactic/gothic study Everything to Come, and the gloomy/dense Calm of the Cast, that show different sides of the same art. The spiritual zenith, One, is a moving "om" to the universe via floating nebulae of interlocking patterns. Cooper does with the guitar what used to be done with electronic keyboards. In fact, his instrumental pieces are more closely related to the electronic poems of the past than to the ambient music of his contemporaries.

Chamber instruments (strings, horns, keyboards) replaced the shoegazing guitars on Copia (Temporary Residence, 2007), that stands as his neoclassical album and the crowning achievement of his progression towards counterpoint. While generally employing minimalist repetition and grand orchestral gestures, the twelve pieces cover a broad spectrum, both in terms of ambition and style, from the piano ballad Radio Ballet to the requiem-like Ostinato for solo organ, from intimations of Pachelbel's adagio (Amreik) to impressionistic vignettes (Seeing You Off The Edges), from orchestral nebulae (the nine-minute Repose In Blue) to Beethoven-esque piano sonatas (Prelude for Time Feelers). The standout is the romantic build-up of the ten-minute Indoor Swimming.

Eluvium/ Jesu (Temporary Residence, 2007) was a split with Justin Broadrick's .

Life Through Bombardment is a career retrospective up to 2009.

Cooper reinvented himself as a singer-songwriter on Similes (Temporary Residence, 2010), notably containing the eleven-minute Cease to Know that after three minutes of calm whispered words becomes a simple loop of undulating melodic drones.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Gianfranco Federico)

Eluvium è il progetto del compositore ambient dall'Oregon Matthew Cooper.

Debuttò con le suite per droni del mini-album  Lambent Materials (Temporary Residence, 2003). Le tracce brevi di chitarra rinnovano idee che sono state già testate da musicisti della generazione precedente. There Wasn't Anything è una sonata per corno e piano dal fascino amatoriale. Tuttavia, il fulcro emotivo del disco è Zerthis Was a Shivering Human Image, di 15 minuti, un semplice, massiccio tsunami di chitarra distorta.

Cooper usa invece soltanto il piano per la suite in sette movimenti An Accidental Memory in Case of Death (2004).

Ritorna poi ai droni di chitarra su Talk Amongst The Trees (Temporary Residence, 2005), i cui brani centrali sono le onde cristalline e le rifrazioni sfarfallanti di New Animals from the Air e la delicata, ondeggiante, geometrica fantasia di 16 minuti Taken, che ricorda le Variations di Johann Pachelbel (sebbene il suo crescendo sia molto più insistente). Ma l'album include anche lo studio galattico/gotico Everything to Come e la cupa/densa Calm of the Cast, che mostrano due lati diversi della stessa arte. Lo zenith spirituale, One, è un “om” in moto verso l'universo attraverso nebulose galleggianti ad incastro. Cooper fa con la chitarra ciò che in genere si faceva con le tastiere elettroniche. Infatti, le sue pièce strumentali sono più vicine ai poemi elettronici del passato che alla musica ambient dei suoi contemporanei.

Gli strumenti da camera (archi, fiati, tastiere) rimpiazzano le chitarre shoegaze su Copia (Temporary Residence, 2007), il suo album neoclassico, e il massimo risultato della sua progressione verso il contrappunto. Pur impiegando la ripetizione minimalista e le gestualità da grande orchestra, le dodici tracce coprono uno spettro piuttosto ampio, sia in termine di ambizione che di stile, dalla ballata per piano Radio Ballet al requiem per organo solo Ostinato, dalle intimazioni dell'adagio di Pachelbel (Amreik) alle vignette impressionistiche (Seeing You Off The Edges), dalla nebulosa orchestrale (i nove minuti di Repose In Blue) alle sonate per piano a là Beethoven (Prelude for Time Feelers). Il capolavoro è la costruzione romantica dei dieci minuti di Indoor Swimming.

Eluvium/ Jesu (Temporary Residence, 2007) è una collaborazione con Justin Broadrick.

Life Through Bombardment è una retrospettiva della sua carriera fino al 2009.

Cooper si è reinventato come cantante-cantautore su Similes (Temporary Residence, 2010), che contiene la lunga Cease to Know.

The double-disc Nightmare Ending (2013) contains one touching moment: Covered in Writing (9:18), which has the melancholy undulating quality of Pachelbel's "Canon". It also contains one intriguing soundscape, Unknown Variation (8:42), where found sounds populate an unstable magma. The problem remains the same: this is as simple and superficial as ambient music gets. There is no sense of depth: this is horizontal, linear ambient music, the opposite of "profound". Most of the ideas feel very old, dating from the 1980s if not 1970s, and even the process feels outdated: a loop of some simple melodic theme that evolves slowly, with little or no creative detours. A bit of background noise is the most that Cooper can think of in terms of counterpoint. Then the piece is left to grow louder and noisier for an eternity. Rain Gently (8:49) is both emblematic of this method and one of the acceptable results. Don't Get Any Closer (9:06) has the piano singing on a dancing pattern for endless minutes and finally in the last two minutes the piano morphs into a cathedral organ. There isn't enough movement to justify the duration of these pieces. When there is, usually the sound effects are embarrassing, so trivial. Hence, the music often feels dull. Not necessarily boring or ugly, but dull. Even if he edited this album down to 20 minutes, it would probably still feel too long for what it has to communicate. The album ends with a Broadway-style piano ballad, Happiness (8:16), which, as mediocre as it is in terms of singing and playing, actually feels like a breath of fresh air.

Cooper then formed Inventions with Explosions In The Sky's guitarist Mark Smith. They released the album Inventions (2014), which sounds largely improvised on the fly but containing the desolate Flood Poems, a second album, Maze Of Woods (2015), containing more sophisticated compositions like the solemn elegy Peregrine and the ghostly chant of Feeling The Sun Thru The Earth At Night, and the EP Blanket Waves (2015) containing two lengthy compositions, cinematic fantasies that (unlike Eluvium's stereotypical compositions) go through a number of metamorphoses: Blanket Waves (14:12) and Hearing Loss (11:52), particularly the latter, which begins with a casual conversation and an operatic choir but then ends with a percussive maelstrom, a requiem-like choir and death bells.

False Readings On (Temporary Residence, 2016) stately operatic soprano Strangeworks seven-minute Philip Glass-ian Fugue State The operatic voice returns to haunt the seven-minute Regenerative Being, a crescendo drenched in hyperbass vibrations, tense strings and bird songs, and sailed by an angelic piano pattern glacial 17-minute epic Posturing Through Metaphysical Collapse slow-motion crescendo of a melodic fragment sung by a choir after eight minutes collides with a nasty radioactive drone that quickly obliterates the music leaving, by the end, a new form of the same melodic fragment trivial melodic Movie Night Revisited nine-minute Beyong The Moon For Someone In Reverse a trombone-like melody floats over a loud hissing, halfway seems to die but instead it reincarnates into a cosmic choir False Readings On abrasive and hissing drones copulate Rorschach Pavan

Shuffle Drones (Temporary Residence, 2017) contains 23 orchestral snippets, each about half a minute long. Since they all begin and end with the same sounds, they can be played in any order. Hit the "reshuffle" button and you are letting chance create an ambient composition. Hit the button again and chance will create a new ambient composition. You can create an astronomical number of compositions. The idea is not new: Gescom (i.e. Autechre) did the same with Minidisc (1998).

The temporary peak of Cooper's self-indulgence was the double-disc Pianoworks (Temporary Residence, 2019), that contains 25 facile piano sonatas in the vein of An Accidental Memory in Case of Death and Prelude for Time Feelers.

Virga I (Temporary Residence, 2019) contains three lengthy pieces. Virga I (19:55) is a little more than a loop of gentle voice-sounding drones. Abyss Forms (11:19) features some movement, as the choir (now more similar to anguished ghosts) is disturbed by a siren-like hiss. House Taken Over (10:48) is a darker piece with psychedelic overtones. It's all too facile.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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