reviewed by Ben Hogwood
What’s the story?
For anyone who attended his sellout Barbican show, the release of Max Cooper‘s second album will be big news indeed. As Arcana reported, this was a rare occasion where a gig lived up to its ambitious title, and since this is the music behind that gig attendees will need little encouragement.
For those new to the story, Max Cooper is a progressive artist and bioscientist looking to explore music through algorithms and pre set patterns in a way that doesn’t dilute its emotional impact. In other words, music that makes you think and feel while pushing the boundaries of composition. “We are rats in the wheel”, he says, “imprisoned by our nature to endlessly pursue. But the view of the essence of this process as a whole, is a beautiful thing.”
What’s the music like?
Cooper’s music is flexible in a way that rewards lovers of ambient music as much as those who love wide, sweeping vistas rich in percussion.
Yearning For The Infinite is a through composed work able to be enjoyed as an hour long stretch or in its constituent parts. Let There Be establishes the wide scope of the ambient sound, seguing into the pulses of Repetition where the extent of the emotion becomes clear. Parting Ways presses forward with a deliberate beat but Perpetual Motion hits a more natural, syncopated groove. After a brief repose Aleph2‘s thick textures are capped by rolling percussion, then Scalar fires rallies of drum and bass around processed vocals from Alison Moyet. Busy beats ricochet through Penrose Tiling while Morphosis has dazzling beauty.
Does it all work?
Yes. On occasion you may find some of the beats too busy for your mood, but that should not be a problem. As Cooper progresses through his voyage the listener is drawn right in to the action, and will find it easy to stay to the end.
Is it recommended?
Yes, without reservation to Cooper devotees, but also to lovers of Jon Hopkins, Nils Frahm or Floating Points. The music here forges a deeply individual path that makes it one of the electronica albums of the year.