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- White Shadows In The South Seas by Mike Cooper
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Mike Cooper has lived a long and interesting life, but the septuagenarian shows no signs of slowing by the evidence of this delightful collection of delightfully weird, restless concrete exotica which is massaging my ears as I type. It’s a difficult album to describe because it spans so many styles over its 14 short tracks that as soon as I think I’ve got a handle on it there’s an unexpected left turn.
Opener ‘Dr Derelict’ has a gorgeous Hawaiian-sounding guitar loop and peaceful tropical field recordings for a great little bit of neo-new agey drift you might expect from Sun Araw, then ‘Beached’ drifts out into more ambient territory with disjointed piano tinkles and heaps more samples for a sometimes baffling bit of concrete before out of nowhere ‘White Shadows’ picks up the pace with intricately layered beats, dubby synths and some sweet slide guitar tones, and then ‘Po Mahina’ has some chiming fingerpicked guitar which brings to mind Ben Chasny in acoustic mode or the great R-Bish, even a touch of John Fahey to the rich, resonant plucking...and we’re still only four songs in!
Over the course of the record the recipe does seem to be new age dub, wibbly tropical slide guitar, and a playful approach to freeform ambience and unsettling layers of tape loops. It’s such a restlessly creative swirl of ideas it’s very hard to sum up in the time I have to review it but Cooper has really made something remarkable here, a great mix of cerebral experimentalism with a calming, peaceful human essence that’s totally compelling and listenable whilst maintaining this alien, exotic mystique. Highly recommended.
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