Oh go on, get excited about a new Eluvium record. It's been a while since Matthew Cooper framed his ambient-leaning post-rock in such a compelling light -- in fact False Readings On seems to intertwine his pastoral, widescreen sound with a harsher resolution, with the orchestration battling tape hiss, unruly distortion and forlorn vocalisations. This one's a gorgeous opera, broken into tiny pieces.
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Some of us are just trusty. Reliable, but little more; never change, but see you never. I feel that Matthew Cooper, many years into his career of ornate and bewitching post-rock ambience, has become one of those types. So I’m asking you to get excited about a new Eluvium record, for his sake: forget that you’ve heard his music many times, cast under the exact same incantation, and hype up ‘False Readings On’. Get into the spirit of the season.
What remains of Cooper’s sound on this record is its penchant for widescreen moments that blossom from languishing ambient sustains. “Fugue State” has instrumentation as deep as the National, with an organ-like melody crashing against an urgently pirouetting loop of half-conjured distortion. It opens up on a screeching-pitched vocal that somehow remains the track’s beauty. Each compartment of the track is laid down with such an immaculate timing, but it feels as though the track would work better as a fragment: it drones onwards into the seven minute mark but only needs three to establish its journey.
Such are the woes of being a post-rock artist, though, and Cooper is overall making something a lot more narratively compelling here, breaking an operatic post-rock record into shards of glass. “Drowning Tone” is exactly what it says, its ambiguous snaps of sound treated and pressured to the end. The nauseating glitches and diluted choir of “Regenerative Being” make for something of a new-age hymn, eventually breaking into a resounding soprano performance: it’s emblematic of ‘False Readings On’ as a whole, this song, because it carries confused, warped states alongside hugely sentimental swan song.
There’s a lot more going on here, in terms of structure and arrangement, but the crooked means bring about that same beautiful end: an Eluvium album that weirdly loops, warmly drones and occasionally stutters its way to the grand finale.
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