Switched On – Collisions: Collisions (Naive / Believe)

Reviewed by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Collisions is so-named because it is the coming together of a musical trio. Tom Hodge, Ollie Newell and Ciaran Morahan are the three musicians in question, and each brings a different skill-set. Hodge is a film composer whose connections include Max Cooper and Floex, Newell is a composer and drummer, while Morahan is described as a ‘post-rock composer’, whose output includes work with Codes In The Clouds and VLMV.

What’s the music like?

There are two elements to the collaboration album – ‘Collisions’ tracks and ‘Motions’. The former set the scene and the sonic perspectives, while the latter offer free-form musical explorations, allowing Hodge’s piano and clarinet and Howell’s drums to work their magic largely unfiltered. This works particularly well. While the Collisions have a curious order (beginning with the spacious II then moving through I, III and IV), they are ideally paced. II offers a big panorama, with concrete heavy drums and spacey synths, while I is a really good blend of subtle, brushed drums and with a thoughtfully probing piano line, before bringing in a sonorous clarinet. III has a similar profile, though this time the piano is given more space to air its thoughts.

Does it all work?

Yes – and the three artists have managed to get the ideal blend of musical events and time for reflection. Collisions is in effect two genres – an underlying ambience, but with carefully thought out ideas above them that bring positive energy and vibrant colours.

Is it recommended?

Yes – enthusiastically. Collisions will reward those who enjoy musical ambience of a wider scope, such as Erland Cooper, or those who enjoy the chattering electronics of an artist such as Max Cooper, who has close connections here. Get it and revel in the musical inspiration.

Switched On – Max Cooper: Yearning For The Infinite (Mesh)

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.

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Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason plays Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah

As part of Arcana’s celebration of the cello this year, here is BBC Young Musician 2016 Sheku Kanneh-Mason, playing Tom Hodge‘s new arrangement of Leonard Cohen‘s Hallelujah:

Sheku played the arrangement at last night’s BAFTA ceremony, marking the passing of so many from the film industry in 2016.

Decca have just released a new EP by their new cellist that contains two more reflective song arrangements, Fauré’s Après un rêve and Bloch’s Abodah