ELUVIUM – pianoworks – 2xCD digipack2xCD digisleevetemporary residence limited2019
For the better part of two decades now, Eluvium has developed and refined a kind of maximalist ambient music that is often as turbulent as it is transporting. The Eluvium moniker has become a vehicle for composer Matthew Cooper to expel and express his own thoughts and questions – some as big as our place in the universe, others as small as a child’s handprint – usually without uttering a word. His newest album, Pianoworks, explores the big idea of how we were, from when we were too small to know who we would become.
Pianoworks is Eluvium’s first solo piano album since his sophomore album, An Accidental Memory In The Case Of Death (2004). Inspired by the quiet thoughts and solitary observations of children – and the evolution/dissolution of that ephemeral, uncorrupted wonder of simple joy – Pianoworks begins with a song about children’s piano lessons, and culminates with an etude driven by the struggle to hold onto innocence and imagination as adulthood settles in. The record’s dramatic simplicity in both execution and expression is with purpose: Cooper wants the music to be simple enough to inspire children and novices to play, and the concept simple enough to resonate regardless of age or experience.
As any minimalist painter, poet, or architect can attest, it is oftentimes the profoundly simple art that proves to be the most time-consuming and torturous to produce. Pianoworks exemplifies this dichotomy, having been recorded, re- recorded, and re-re-recorded in the span of nearly a decade. Cooper exhausted every attempt to achieve a very specific, peculiar sound that is out of time – a sound not entirely lost in an attic, but also one not easily found in a playlist. The process to achieve this elusive sound was painstaking, but it has yielded a rare kind of music that is as uncomplicated as it is uncompromised.