Matthew Robert Cooper
Miniatures


4.5
superb

Review

by Mark A. CONTRIBUTOR (73 Reviews)
November 15th, 2012 | 12 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Matthew Robert Cooper has something incredibly special to bestow upon listeners here.

Matthew Robert Cooper has something incredibly special to bestow upon listeners. It is the gift of feeling through music; the ability to convey emotion through subtle shifts in tone and pace. It is the ability to speak of lost love, or a forlorn feeling of loneliness without using words or vocals. His moniker Eluvium has put out heartbreakingly beautiful instrumental albums for years now, and there is no reason to put this release up as one of his finest. The glacial sounds on Miniatures are a perfect melding of the two main sounds that he has perfected on albums past; the piano pieces are at once strikingly haunting and starkly different than the lush soundscapes created on other tracks. The strength of this album is not that the songwriting is brilliant (which it is), but rather that the variation of the tracks allow for the progression of songs to ebb and flow perfectly without sounding to similar to each other. That is an unfortunate pitfall of many musicians that take an entire album on by themselves; each track bleeds into the next, and by the end of the album, the listener is begging for the end of the monotony. The brilliance of Cooper is that he is intelligent on this release especially in terms of choosing the right progession for the listener. The choices that were made on how the album progresses track by track allow for one to hear a gentle and heartbreaking piano melody one track, and then get hit hard by a dense, yet expansive ochestral sound with the next track. It takes away the obvious limitations of the genre, and allows for the variation to play an active role in reeling the listener in for an experience of highs and lows, rather than listening to an album that gently drowses away.

"Miniature 1" starts off as reverb-laden masterpiece. Its sorrowful nature hints at beauty and nostalgia while repeating the same structure over and over. It is wholly affecting, and envelops the listener completely. The straightforward piano piece that follows is both short and telling, as one can tell the alternating sounds of the album strategically allows for variation without it seeming to be jarring. It flows from track to track, allowing sounds of happiness and jubiliation to punctuate the beautiful melancholy. This music is for the listener that wants to get lost in music, to become a recluse in a beautiful soundscape that no one can touch for a short while. The transition from piano to organ in "Miniature 5" is nothing short of startling, but the patterns of "Miniature 4" can be detected, and one can tell that Cooper was not ready to give that gorgeous melody up quite yet. The sound of pages flapping towards the end of "Miniature 7" is precisely why this album works so well; it is the details that create world within the music. At 34 minutes in length, this album does not overstay its welcome in the least, and the brevity of most songs allow for the ideas to not become stale or overdone. In this way, it stays in your head long after the last notes fade out slowly on "Miniature 9".

There is beauty and substance to be found on this record, and it does not hide or shy away from what it really is. This is an album that people will love or hate, depending on music taste. Many may find it too subtle to enjoy, too low-key to fully embrace it as a work of art. But for those that delve into this release, many will find an album that speaks to them without words, the way that a painting will move one to tears without motion. The devil may be in the details, but the details of Miniatures are what keeps me coming back to this album over and over again to replay the home movies of my life in my head. The trials and tribulations of adulthood are given a soundtrack here, and what a sorrowful yet redeeming one it is.



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user ratings (17)
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3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
natey (4)
Cooper returns under a new name yet with the same old emotion. Stripped-down minimal tracks have lu...


Comments:Add a Comment 
mindleviticus
November 14th 2012


8535 Comments


Ahhh Eluvium. Good review, mate. Never listened to this, but I think I will now.

cryptside
Contributing Reviewer
November 14th 2012


2346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks, man. I think you will find quite a bit to enjoy here. It's my second favorite release by him.

GiaNXGX
November 14th 2012


4867 Comments


Album Rating: 4


Beautiful ambient.

cryptside
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2015


2346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This guy makes some of my very favorite music. Love this and all of Eluvium's stuff. Still listen to this after all this time.

ComeToDaddy
Contributing Reviewer
February 27th 2015


983 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's a shame he doesn't really meld the piano and ambience together like he often does. Miniature 9 is heartbreaking though, easily amongst his best tracks, and Miniature 6 was brilliant too. Shame it was so short, I'd have liked to see a glacial track like that expanded on

Digging: Echo Tail - King Defeatism

cryptside
Contributing Reviewer
February 28th 2015


2346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Agreed there, man. I often wish this would have been expanded on like a lot of his other work is. I'm really glad that you ended up enjoying this so much!

ComeToDaddy
Contributing Reviewer
February 28th 2015


983 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, each interlude had enough substance to warrant a longer playtime easily, but I guess the brevity also works in its favour. I'm glad you reminded me it even existed haha

cryptside
Contributing Reviewer
February 28th 2015


2346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Lol of course dude, love sharing this album with people. I think the brevity does help it in some aspects, but I generally like my ambient albums overlong anyway. I want it to be an experience, but with this one it's so seamless that I don't mind just pressing play again when it ends.

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Contributing Reviewer
February 28th 2015


3429 Comments


if you want an experience check the newest Stuart Russell album. It's meant to replicate an expedition to the North Pole in the 19th century, and it definitely captures it well. kinda like, equal parts natural wonder and character study. It's nice

ComeToDaddy
Contributing Reviewer
February 28th 2015


983 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I also think you'd both love Aglaia's Three Organic Experiences, it's a criminally overlooked ambient gem. Will grab that Stuart Russell right away, cheers

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Contributing Reviewer
February 28th 2015


3429 Comments


ah yes Aglaia, didn't know many others were tracking that here. One of the first ambient joints I ever listened to. pretty sure he put something new out recently

ComeToDaddy
Contributing Reviewer
February 28th 2015


983 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not many people do, only reason I've even heard of a lot of overlooked ambient is from Stranger and Key lists over the years of lurking



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