For the past sixteen years, Portland, OR’s Matthew Cooper has been issuing ambient albums full of dense layers and affecting emotional resonances. Pianoworks, as its name suggests, is an album made entirely with piano, a sequel to 2004’s An Accidental Memory In The Case Of Death. The inspiration this time around was the notion of childhood innocence and the struggle to retain that as the gravity of adulthood reveals itself.
That heavy sentiment gives pieces like ‘Quiet Children’ a hopefulness, its central melody evoking the notion of looking back on early memories through the sepia-tinged lens of time. In contrast, ‘Carrier 32’ has a subtle stridency, portraying the determination of a child to talk, walk or grab at objects that you’d rather they didn’t touch. There’s also a prevailing sadness that those days seem like a lifetime ago, with that melancholic dimension existing most notably in the concluding, unresolved melodies of ‘Empathy For A Silhouette’.
By stripping back the layers Cooper normally deploys, he has created a precise, beatific album that will leave an indelible mark on anyone – even the most curmudgeonly of souls – who are prone to bouts of wistful nostalgia for those halcyon, simple, lost days of youth.
Pianoworks by Eluvium is released on May 31 2019 by Temporary Residence.
Words: Mat Smith
(c) 2019 Further.