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Temporary Residence Ltd./The Orchard, 2003
Starting firmly in the Eno school of ambient space-filling, with the pulsating organ chords and guitar whispers of "The Unfinished", the music of Eluvium (Matthew Cooper) gradually establishes its own character. It's warm and organic throughout. The other-worldly "Under the Water it Glowed" reminds me of something from Eno's "Another Green World" with an ultra-quiet, Robert Fripp-like squirming guitar. The treated piano's nostalgic arpeggios on "There Wasn't Anything", set against a low clarinet and gentle crackling, lies somewhere between Enya's Watermark and Vangelis's "Memories of Green".
The most entrancing piece is the grandiosely-titled "Zerthis was a Shivering Human Image". It builds up a gothic intensity with merely two chords rocking back and forth over waves of gently distorted white noise. It's as if the fuzz acts as an improvisation over the two chords, in place of something more conventional like a sax solo, so that the piece's 15 minutes of minimalism don't become tiring. Finally "I Am So Much More Me..." washes away the fuzz, with the kind of feathery ambient in which every repeated electric piano note is suffused with expression.
It's always a treat to discover a new artist as imaginative as this in a genre that is often accused of being limited.
December 8, 2005