Review Summary: Matthew Cooper the man, finally meeting Eluvium the artist.
When Nightmare Ending
really hit me, I was driving down the freeway on a warm day with the windows rolled down. Strange, really, as connecting with ambient music has always been easiest in seclusion and isolation; introverted scenarios for introverted music. Yet Eluvium’s seventh album bucks such an idea, and with it, its very own beginnings. Nightmare Ending
was a concept born from Matthew Cooper’s intense perfectionism. It stood as a way to loosen his hold on his music and embrace the inherent flaws within. Perhaps this is what gives the album its surprisingly open
feeling. Rather than retract into himself, chasing after perfection that will always be from reach, Eluvium for once has laid himself bare for all to see. The result is a humanizing piece of work that shows us Matthew Cooper the man, as well as Eluvium the artist.
It should come as no surprise that Nightmare Ending
was intended to be the follow up to his opus, Copia
. While a couple of diversions led him to explore different areas of his sound, this album was always in the back of his mind. And really, it is exactly what one would expect from a successor to his 2007 record. At times, however, his latest oft feels like a distortion to some of his other works. In keeping with his wish to loosen his perfectionist grip, many of the selections on Nightmare Ending
progress as one would expect, only to become discombobulated or take an unexpected turn. Yes, plenty of the album drones while piano fills the void. But even the loveliest of pieces can take a dark turn, only to find themselves ending in luscious and life affirming conclusion. Copia
, despite its inherent beauty seemingly born organically, comes off almost mechanistic by comparison. With its clean lines and edges fitting its lofty sound, it stands as a perfect counter to Nightmare Ending
’s rawer, more personal approach.
A massive album, Nightmare Ending
runs for roughly 84 minutes. Within that time Eluvium creates a collection of overly saturated tunes featuring some of the most emotive sounds he’s ever compiled. Some songs drone with monotony, while others make unexpected turns, with each attempting something different. Whether it is the faintly melancholy “Caroling,” or the strangely dark and unwieldy “By the Rails,” the album leaves the listener breathless with unease yet at the same time completely uplifted. This is where the album succeeds. It’s a much more jagged experience; a patchwork as opposed to an exercise in consistency. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, Nightmare Ending
manages to be Eluvium’s most evocative and interesting work to date.