There must be something enticing about staring out into the vast, blue ocean. The ocean simply serves as a calming, relaxing sight as our minds race through our deepest and most powerful dreams. What if music became so simple yet so vast? What would it sound like? What instrument, if any, possesses the ability to create a sound to accompany the ocean? I don’t believe any single instrument creates a sound that rivals the relaxation of the ocean, but Matthew Cooper, under the moniker of Eluvium, seems to know how to make quite possibly the most relaxing album of 2005 with Talk Amongst the Trees.
First and foremost, do not sit down and listen to Talk Amongst the Trees with the intention of figuring out every nook and cranny of the album. In that aspect, the album seems incredibly lackluster. One does not have to entirely focus on the music presented to gather all of the atmosphere and texture of the album. Most songs, even the 17 minute Taken
, drone on the same chord progression. However, something about Matthew Cooper and his electronic miasmas mixed with outworldly guitar allows for this to never tire. Talk Amongst the Trees is the perfect background music. Studies show that listening to Mozart makes one smarter by increasing spatial-temporal reasoning in the mind, or essentially the ability to take objects and flip them in your mind. Eluvium, while not creating the complex structures of Mozart’s music, blocks out all distractions from the outside world and immerses one’s mind into the sonic equivalent of a dense liquid that flows like the most luscious cream. From there, all sense of reality and time (like a clock, not the tempo of the music) disappears and nothing phases the mind from the task at hand, whether that is writing a report or simply relaxing and letting the day’s stress ooze out of the mind.
The general sound of Eluvium seems quite simple, but really, there is a lot that goes into the texture and atmosphere of the sound. First, take an emotion. Now, find a chord progression that accompanies that emotion, and convey it through a milky blend of electronica and post-rock. Once the progression settles into the song, add in drones of color tones to add a whole new sense to each already orotund chord. Now the chords have the life they need to sustain for as long as the song requires. To give that little bit of variety, change the droned tones every once in a while to give a slight alteration to the chord voicings. From here, add a melody to integrate into the blend, however, the melody cannot stick out of the texture. Everything blends together to make one sound. As far as the melodic instrument, anything that creates a rich and warm tone will do. All that seems easy enough, but if one of these comes across in the wrong way, the entire atmosphere of the song and quite possibly the entire album is destroyed. I wouldn’t know how much atmosphere that destroys because Matthew Cooper never lets that happen.
Every song on the album contributes to the atmosphere and pure relaxing quality of the album. New Animals from the Air
, spanning nearly 11 minutes, sets down the tone immediately with a simple, extended chord progression. A guitar melody that sits in with the creamy texture creates all the rhythmic activity that is not challenging by any means. Although not even spanning a minute, Area 41
is the most epic sounding song on the album. The incredible blend of electronic sounds and what might be an organ sounds incredibly uplifting and enchanting. However, Cooper knows that even he cannot make this blend last too long without it getting old, and it isn’t him to change the overall tonality of the song in the middle of it. The standout is also the longest on the album, Taken
really sounds like a typical post rock song. A strummed guitar chord progression takes its place as the centerpiece of the song, and this song grows. Skipping through the song, starting at the beginning and skipping to the middle and then to the end, the range of dynamics is imminently obvious. However, unlike almost every other post-rock band, the climax of screaming stings, searing guitars, and an absolutely hammering rock beat never occurs. That takes away from the relaxing feel of the album, and Cooper knows that. The rest of the album carries on, waving goodbye in the same manner as the album started. Talk Amongst the Trees is quite simply an album for relaxation and for focus, nothing more.
New Animals from the Air
Calm of the Cast-Light Cloud