Album Review

Rachel Mooney

I found the album to be a symphony of sounds touching both high points and lows, with what seems to be both a beginning and an end and even a few surprises along the way.

Eluvium is definitely niche music, full of ambient, hazy distortion contrasting with crisp overlapping piano melodies with an unmatched ebb and flow. This album, different from others, showcases Matthew Cooper's vocals and takes a turn in a slightly different direction than past albums, all the while remaining true to the ambient sound Cooper is so well known for.

The opening track, 'Leaves That Eclipse the Night,' is what I expect from Eluvium; mellow and ambient with its wavelike progression, but to my surprise, the vocals waste no time in establishing this album as different from the others. If I dare say it, the vocals are slightly reminiscent of Justin Furstenfeld from Blue October. Do I think these vocal abilities alone will be winning him future grammys? No, but Cooper introduces them in such a backhanded way that they become almost another instrumental aspect of the musical pulse that is Eluvium and only add to the driving melodies. The fact that these newly introduced vocals are not found on every track also aids in avoiding what could become monotony, and if you take the time to truly discern Cooper's voice, the lyrical content itself is deep yet at points muffled and inaudible throughout the album.

The second track, 'The Motion Makes Me Last,' mixes simple piano with a vibrant bubbling synthetic background creating a more intense mingling of sounds and ends like a herd of galloping horses. This, in my opinion, is one of the advantages to anything synth- it allows for the illusion of fullness unrivaled by a three piece band. The next track, "In Culmination,' is overwhelmingly beautiful with its intensity in this sense, as overlapping layered piano melodies create a luxuriously layered sound.

"Nightmare,' is not nightmarish at all actually, and, 'Making Up Minds,' opens with a driving triplet beat and slightly askew piano melodies layered so thick halfway through the song that it literally made me ask, 'Is this a breakdown?!' And I mean that in the best possible way, as the track was one of the more memorable high notes on the album. ‘Bending Dream,’ induces me to a dreamlike state with an airy quality only further proving Cooper's ability to compose and produce effective and trans-formative ambient music. Despite its 11 minute run time, "Cease to Know,' is not a firework packed finale, but rather gives the sense of slowly wandering home after a long night, giving that sense of, 'rest,' to the story that is Similes.

Overall, I found the album to be a symphony of sounds touching both high points and lows, with what seems to be both a beginning and an end and even a few surprises along the way. Although Cooper remains true to his ambient genre, he knows how to keep it fresh and change ever-so-slightly so that Eluvium doesn't lose its devoted fanbase- but doesn't bore them either. It’s a fine line between a niche and complacency and Cooper walks it straight.

85/100