Rod Cooper Friction

"What’s he building in there?” A question asked by Tom Waits on Bone Machine that could very well be asked of Rod Cooper. As a sculptor, furniture designer and especially as an inventor of instruments, he actively investigates properties of metal as it is bowed, struck and, at times, seemingly rent asunder. The extreme moments on Friction are few. "Stratum,” the longest of the four pieces, moves from what sounds like motorised sanding into quieter moments resembling the bowing of large cymbals. "Mandrel” is the most percussive and bell-like of the four, with the sound of denser metal ringing out separated by long silences. Without a visual image of the instruments being played, the mystery of the sound grows, given the knowledge that they are all man-made and physically generated. The instrument on album closer "Pearline,” at times rings out with notes and even chords resembling a piano’s low register while Cooper’s mechanised bowing holds a drone. It’s Merzbow for minimalists and Test Department covered by a string quartet all rolled up in one. (Room 40)