Review Summary: When I Live by the Garden and the Sea seems to be a representation of Matthew Cooper's past work, showing off all of his typical techniques. Although apparently created with incredible ease, it is still a great release from Eluvium.
Staring into a hazy summer’s day creates a blurred vision of reality. It is like a trance, a distortion. That trance compares well to Eluvium’s music. Eluvium, simply a moniker for Matthew Cooper, creates a layered mass of music with no real melody. Cooper leaves only the texture and the milky smooth style of electronic chords. His music constantly flows, never giving the listener a rest from the beautiful wall of sound. Whether he uses synthesizers, guitars, or pianos doesn’t matter. Cooper composes a sleepy trance in his music, one that can evoke the brain into the most profound of thoughts or simply relax the mind and body into a comatose state.
When I Live by the Garden and the Sea, an EP from Cooper released just a year after his latest full length, finds Cooper putting together all of the various techniques from his previous efforts as well as applying some new ones. He opens his EP with I Will Not Forget That I Have Forgotten
. It displays a new sound, one that focuses around a singular melody. A beautiful, deep, and dark piano chord progression leads the song while guitar feedback and other ambient noises grow and fade with the line. The piano displays excellent growth and musicianship. The melody sings out a song of purpose and intent, one of the most powerful compositions Cooper ever created. While most other post-rock artists might make the entire song based stay on the same chord, Cooper allows the song to modulate through a number of chords and keys to keep the song interesting. From here, the album enters Cooper’s comfort zone, a beautiful, warm sound that rivals the beauty of waves crashing on a shore. The last minute of the opening track is purely quiet ambience, preparing the listener for the barrage of sound about to come through for the rest of the EP.
As I Drift Off
leads the EP into its second section of beautiful, electronic ambience. The title fits the song perfectly. The song accompanies floating away into nowhere on a raft with no sail, simply gliding along to wherever the water chooses. The sound itself composes of a dark pipe organ tone and an airy breeze that blows in and out of the dream that Cooper composes. All the Sails
differs in its approach. Instead of making a constant, smooth change between the chords, every luscious chord swells in and out. Other ambience fills in the space between the main chord swells which draw the entire song together. Cooper realizes that his music always sounded like the ocean, and here in this song he takes the sound of the waves and uses it as perfect ambience. Amazingly, the entire song only uses four chords, sharing the tonal complexity of a typical punk song. However, Cooper’s use of ambience and mastery of production makes such a deep and intricate sound that its true simplicity does not matter. Finally, When I Live by the Garden and the Sea
applies Cooper’s final main technique, a song of growth and layering. It begins so sparse but as more voices add in, it expands into a full sound. However, the build takes too long and the song is too boring even for the trance that the first three songs put the listener into.
When I Live by the Garden and the Sea might actually be the best starting place for Eluvium. It shows a quick sample of all of Cooper’s sounds and styles in full form, although his growth and layering lacks greatly on this EP. Still, it is an incredibly easy listen that has enough depth to have a great replay value. Cooper seems to make his music with incredible ease, as if he can just walk into the studio and compose an EP in one day. Still, looking further, it must take a lot of thought to create all the small intricacies that Cooper induces into his music. Cooper says that this EP is representative of his moving on and his step into a new era. Maybe it simply makes a personal summary of his previous era while he steps into an evolution in his musical life. Only time will tell, whenever he releases his next work.
Recommended Track: I Will Not Forget That I Have Forgotten