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
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
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
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.
Jesu (Temporary Residence, 2007) è una collaborazione
con Justin Broadrick.
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
which begins with a casual conversation and an operatic choir but then ends
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
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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