Eluvium: Copia (Temporary Residence ltd., 2007)
Eluvium is the project of Matthew Cooper, who has abandoned many of the conventional instruments used by bands and by him in the past. There is no guitar to be found on this instrumental epic, but varied brass, keyboards, piano, and stringed instruments fill the speakers with beautiful emotive brilliance. Copia is the result of a transformation for Eluvium, and it’s not a bad thing.
“Amreik” begins the journey. Horns are beautifully arranged on top of some keyboard work that is subtle and ambient. The piece is moving and a grand entrance to the rest of the disc. “Indoor Swimming at the Space Station” sets off with soaring, vast soundscapes built on keys and strings. The mood is dark and solemn, perhaps like the emptiness of space. Piano is added for depth as the layers become complex and louder. One has the sense that the track is conveying a feeling of floating, endlessly floating. All that is bright and all that is beautiful is hidden deep within the vastness and melancholy tones of this track. A wind or brass instrument comes in to add texture over the piano and ambient bed of music. Eventually, ambient keys are left to communicate the emotion of the composition. Then, strange sounds fill the speakers as the song works its way to its 10:29 finish line.
“Seeing You Off the Edges” is seamlessly connected to the prior track. Soaring keyboards fill the speakers as walls of sound wash over the listener. The mood is somber and beautiful all at the same time. Moving and spacious, Matthew Cooper paints beautiful pictures with his music. “Prelude for Time Feelers” is a piano piece that is simple and elegant. Light synths come into the background ever so subtly to give depth to the stripped down pianos. Then, in a moment, the piano changes and a brass instrument accompanies the melody. Evoking days gone by and fond memories, this track brings cold fall days and snowy winter days by the fireplace to mind. “Requiem on Frankfort Ave.” is introduced with a beautiful set of horns and violin. Patient and bold, the composition is breathtaking. This entire disc moves like a soundtrack to a grand movie or is akin to a neo-classical set of tracks with ambience in the backdrop.
“Radio Ballet” begins with bright piano. The entire song contains variations on the same melody and is entirely a piano piece. “(Intermission)” has clanking sounds with tiny moments of ambiance. It is brief, but it provides a direct insight into the purpose of the artist. It is certainly a disc that is epic and has movements akin to classical music. The second half of the disc begins with “After Nature.” Bright keyboards fill the speakers with some strings bringing depth to the piece. This brief song leads into “Reciting the Airships.” Piano leads to airy keys that blend to make perfect, soaring compositions. The emotive elements in all Cooper’s tracks are brilliant and convey sadness, melancholy, and at the same time hope.
“Osinato” begins with organ rising in volume steadily. This has a brilliant ambient affect as horns join in to help build a wall of sound. This eventually comes down from its vast sound and fades into “Hymn #1.” Rain fills the speakers with piano playing amidst the downpour. About half-way through, the piano drops out and then comes back in to ease the listener out of the track and into “Repose in Blue.” Strings and keys create an under-layer that is accented with subtle variations. Horns rise in majestic style and grace. The track is patient and is punctuated with what sounds like fireworks. The finale is ringing in the end of the epic journey on which Cooper has taken the listener. Evoking ancient lands and the deepest emotions, Cooper brings his grand album to a close with excellence and perfection.
The new direction for Eluvium is breathtaking and simply impressive. Cooper has crafted a masterpiece that is ambient, deep, complex and meaningful.