Eluvium When I Live By the Garden and the Sea

For a quiet album, Eluvium’s Talk Amongst the Trees made a lot of noise on a variety of 2005 top ten lists. And rightfully so, as Matthew Cooper honed in on the delicate balance that holds ambient and minimalist music aloft. This four-track follow-up is an effective primer for the uninitiated, with a small-but-stately piano opening that recalls earlier albums as well as the excised-attack guitar swells that propel many of the pieces. The shouted intro sample to "as I drift off” sets in motion an abrasive tone that envelopes the short track, with a dense fog of compressed distortion pushing down the procession. The density carries through to "all the sails” with the sense of animals pulling a heavy load up an incline, the drone a sound of muscles locking up and relaxing. The final title track is the gem here, with a broader sound scope than previously. Reverberating glassy vibes break the surface like the cresting of wavelets while the other swelling sounds take on a cathedral organ tone. It is processional music for an austere event, simultaneously happy and mournful, but ultimately neither. This is Eluvium at his best. (Temporary Residence)