Release Date: Sep 2, 2016
Record label: Temporary Residence
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic, Post-Rock, Experimental Ambient
'Shattered Streams was an experiment in musical ephemerality… each song was available to stream on a loop for a maximum period of 24 hours, degrading over that time until they simply disappeared.' Organised by and during the recent, NYC edition of the Red Bull Music Academy — and as much inspired by William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops as a response to an on-demand (and at-command) listening culture—the Shattered Streams site featured works by 31 different artists over the course of May this year. Among those contributing musicians were Basinski himself and, under his Eluvium moniker, ambient composer Matthew Cooper. This was music whose shelf life was its defining characteristic, terminable and infinitely terminating.
False Readings On is the seventh proper full-length by ambient composer Matthew Cooper under his Eluvium moniker, not counting numerous EPs and limited releases commissioned by museums or included with art books, or both volumes of the Life Through Bombardment vinyl box sets. The album feels like a culmination of several different techniques he's explored with previous efforts, incorporating neo-classical piano melodies as well as warm, enveloping static, but ultimately he's continuing to chart new territory. The main element that sticks out on this album is Cooper's occasional somewhat jarring usage of operatic vocal samples.
Oregon's prolific and reliable Eluvium (Matthew Cooper) returns with his eighth studio album, the gorgeous and haunting False Readings On. Released on Temporary Residence, the album further solidifies Cooper's reputation as a consummate architect of sound.Beatless but not exactly ambient, music like this often gets placed in the soundtrack category, usually due to its affinity for sci-fi soundscapes. Cooper checks a lot of the boxes of this default style (doing it credit along the way), but also manages to transcend its limitations.
In 2013, Matthew Cooper released an Eluvium double album he had been assembling off and on for seven years. His output since then has been vibrant and fruitful, and False Readings On carries on that exploratory spirit. Nightmare Ending was a creative housecleaning, summative and purging. There was also something curious about the placement of the title on the cover, so that left-to-right it could be read as “Eluvium Ending”, like it was put there as a cryptic escape clause.
Presence requires absence. On False Readings On, the newest from Eluvium, it is often only after a sound exits that we notice what it left behind. At the end of the album’s closer, “Posturing Through Metaphysical Collapse,” a lingering string sound throws the dense fuzz that came before into stark relief. This is what “eluvium” means: debris from the disintegration of rock, the remnants made possible by a loss of something whole.
Matthew Cooper is one of our definitive contemporary pop-ambient artists, and he never goes too long without issuing Eluvium music in some fashion. He tends to release an LP about every three years, as though his creativity runs on the same long natural cycles that inform his songs. Though his albums blend into a timeless stasis in memory, going back over his discography—without even getting into collaborations with the likes of Explosions in the Sky’s Mark T.
Eluvium makes ambient music for the masses. From his earliest EPs of minimalist piano suites to 2013’s sumptuous, sprawling Nightmare Ending, Portland’s Matthew Robert Cooper has composed his intricate, textural sonic landscapes with a rhythmic backbone, one that often results in melodies that can’t help but engage the ears. That’s perhaps why some might not even label Cooper’s music “ambient,” as, if we’re adopting Eno’s entreaty for ambient music to be “as ignorable as it is interesting,” it’s often just too lovely to ignore.
Eluvium — False Readings On (Temporary Residence Ltd)Thirteen years and eight albums in, a few songs into the False Readings On, Matthew Cooper manages something that not many artists ever do; he makes a song that feels like it blends all the sides he’s previously shown into something that partakes of all of them but at the same time feels like a new frontier for him. At a point in his career where plenty of musicians are either flailing for novelty or have settled for covering the same ground for diminishing returns, Cooper’s work as Eluvium threads the needle of building on what came before without ever just repeating it. False Readings On doesn’t feel the need to emulate or distance itself from Cooper’s previous peaks, because it can stand beside them.