Eluvium Copia

Matthew Cooper has released a series of excellent and well-received works as Eluvium over the last few years. Most recently, the When I Live By the Garden EP served as both summary and introduction to his overall sound. Copia starts off promisingly with "Amreik,” a gentle reveille reminiscent of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s Virthulegu Forsetar, and "Indoor Swimming At The Space Station” features a familiar building processional of piano and synthesiser. The next suite of tracks, however, veers into a kind of melancholy torpor that resembles over-wetted themes by Angelo Badalamenti. The synth strings are too synthetic and the tone suggests an absurdly abject Laura Palmer must hide behind a nearby shrub. The album recoups itself with the last four tracks, especially "Reciting the Airships” and "Repose in Blue,” which reintroduce dynamics and diversity drained out of the album’s middle section. Cooper’s strengths — his ability to overlay gentle and stately strings, piano figures and drones into elegiac themes — also contribute to some limitations that begin to peek through. The illusion of the pieces being overheard, fading in at approach, existing for the duration of our listening then fading out as we exit loses charm as the strategy repeats itself. No one wants to only see small mammals pulled from top hats for an entire evening no matter how magical it seems the first time. (Temporary Residence)