Temporary Residence Ltd. / The Orchard, 2005
Another top-notch set of warm ambient compositions from Matthew Cooper. The order of the day is minimalist structures, manipulation of organic sounds, and Eno-style slithering harmonies (if that means nothing to you, think the intro to U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name"). It's warmth may be because it's more guitar than synth based, in the tradition of Robert Fripp, with guitar sounds effected into oblivion. Although I'm only guessing. The beauty of a lot of this kind of music is that you've no idea how it was made.
On the overture "New Animals From The Air", a picked guitar motif glistens against a dense fog of backwards effects and white-noiseified pads. Many of the pieces here are based on a similar backbone of richly-textured drones. Like a lot of quality ambient, there's so much sonic detail there, that the minimalist repetition doesn't become tiring. Yet it won't keep you awake, if you're inclined to use it as a sleeping pill.
The massive "Taken" is at the album's heart. An arching phrase on two picked guitars is repeated and sustained over 16 minutes, over a wash of slithery feedback. It's thoroughly entrancing as the phrase changes almost imperceptibly in timing, dynamics and texture with each iteration, climbing ever upwards like an Escher staircase. Eventually it transforms into a kind of massive military march before shifting slightly out of phase and withdrawing into the fog.
January 30, 2006