Review Summary: Cooper returns under a new name yet with the same old emotion. Stripped-down minimal tracks have lush and powerful effects.
Matthew Robert Cooper is a commended ambient composer more commonly known under stage the pseudonym Eluvium. Miniatures
is his first album released by his true name. “This is not far from something "Eluvium" would release…but since I began writing them… I felt that they where somehow disconnected from Eluvium--perhaps a different personality took shape--thus, the use of a different name.” Name aside, Miniatures
is more a continued development of Eluvium then some new direction.
Not to say that Miniatures
offers no contrast to previous material of Cooper’s. As an album it is more ascetic then other album’s of his and simultaneously less cohesive. Pieces transition almost accidentally from solo piano to organ to strings and synthesizers. Cooper’s earlier records arguably differed on their own; An Accidental Memory in the Case of Death
was entirely solo piano, while Copia
worked with a different collection of instruments toward a stylistically separate goal. The earlier quote of Cooper’s aside, his motive in altering his sobriquet remains an enigma in my mind.
But no matter the ensemble or name, Cooper’s talent shines in every texture and melody he creates. He has the ability to draw chilling soundscapes out of the most austere arrangements. Whether it be the thick moving strings of “Miniature 9” or the flowing piano of “Miniature 8”. The one minute “Miniature 6” is a glorious moment on Miniatures
and concurrently the simplest. “Miniature 2”’s piano melody is numbingly plain, yet its nude simplicity is potent in its own way. Tracks 4 and 5 make a unique duo. The melody and key are carried from “Miniature 4” to “Miniature 5”; that continuation coupled with the switch from the pianism of 4 to the baroque-esque organ on “Miniature 5” manifests a beautiful effect and is a highlight on Miniatures
The album, like all of Cooper’s work, is filled with longing and emotion. Simple effects like the page turning on “Miniature 7” supplement the music in an intangible way. It's hard to put in words what Cooper does with his notes; a theoretical analysis of his music would be fruitless in ascertaining its value and power. One thing is clear: Cooper has done it again. Miniatures
is a sound addition to an already laudable discography, a fine place to start for newcomers and Eluvium fans alike.