Mike Cooper’s 2010 album Blue Guitar is named for a Wallace Stevens poem, and apparently has Cooper-made cut-ups of Thomas Pynchon texts at the core of its composition. Suitably, Cooper’s guitar and voice follow their own paths here, blending traditional and extended techniques into a rich song-soup. Reissued on vinyl, for the first time, by Idea Records.
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Lopsider Mike Cooper makes some of the most infuriating virtuoso acoustic guitar music we’ve ever heard, which means it’s all things good, of course: having travelled far and wide for releases on room40, FRKWAYS and anywhere else that wants you to think it’s really weird, he’s now got this goodie out on IDEA. Above the fragments, shimmers, whines and wheezes of his unclassifiable guitar playing, he skews a little high-concept, cutting up the texts of post-moderniest Thomas Pynchon and collaging them into noisy singsong.
In all honesty, it’s some of my favourite Cooper: expressive in the string-bends and haughty transitions, his guitar does all manner of things, often letting out guttural wines but sometimes achieving voice-like coos. His voice, as always, is a sage, omnipresent force, residing over the record with the same conviction and measure as a Bill Callahan. His flicks of guitar rarely cohere with his Pynchon collages, but they always sound-off one another, the super-fast inflections of his strums and picks making many of his musings feel both absurd and poignant: he says things like “there’s a trick I’m trying to do with a knife” as his guitar bellows below.
It’s much in the line of Eric Chenaux’s abstract delivery, in that it sounds like his song is being held on an elastic band that could snap at any time. His vocal moves in one direction against the complexities and anachronisms of his guitar, which, if I’m being candid, just won’t shut up. It’s there and back and back and there again.
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- Blue Guitar by Mike Cooper
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