Eluvium leads the classical ambient pack

Matthew Cooper takes listeners on an intimately spectacular journey with “False Readings On.”

bandcamp.com

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Maxwell Heilman , Writer

The heights of ambient music have become a modernized bastille for the nuanced realms of musicality usually limited to classical composers. Ambient artists parallel with film score writers in meticulous arrangements and atmospheric weight, but divert from their bombastic peers in pursuit of expansive soundscapes and climaxes.

Paragon of ambient music

Tennessee-born Matthew Cooper operates on the vanguard of ambient music by the moniker of Eluvium, embracing anything from Chopin-esque piano pieces to trance-inducing drones during his decade-spanning career in sonic oblivion. Less than half a year after releasing a compilation of unreleased tracks, “False Readings On” reaffirms Cooper’s status as a true paragon of ambient music’s aspirations and triumphs.

In a scene permeated with lightbulb-tanned audiophiles falling asleep on their keyboards, Cooper stands out for implementing multifaceted compositional sensibilities. Dissatisfied with simply soothing listener’s senses, “False Readings On” strives for transcendent atmosphere and overwhelming crescendos. Cooper seamlessly combines the instrumentation of yesteryear and today as he embellishes gorgeous sonic portraits using shimmering synth pads, orchestral delicacies, alien noises and processed voices as his paintbrushes. Opener “Strangeworks” and later “Regenerative Being” exemplify Eluvium’s brilliant instrumental juxtaposition. The former crosses synthesizers with earthy guitar plucking while the latter sprinkles angelic choruses over seismic modulations.

The perfect sounds in the perfect spots.

Although retaining a respect for minimalism, Eluvium’s complexity manifests through Cooper’s uncanny ability to place the perfect sounds in the perfect spots. The sheer fluidity his intimately engrossing opuses exude through their scientifically precise construction maintains their momentum, as can be heard in “Individuation.” Comprised of synthetic static and skeletal piano musings, the track blooms into a bouquet of texture and emotion. Cooper knows exactly how little he must do in order to get his point across, allowing his music to resonate in the quietest chambers of the listener’s heart, but “False Readings On” also sports the celestial vibrancy he has proven his mastery of.

Beyond The Moon For Someone In Reverse” and “Rorschach Pavan” spectacularly deliver what many ambient artists come up short on — direction, escalation and culmination. Eluvium shows no fear of long-winded discussions with his audience through the songs because it only furthers his pulverizing conclusions. As subtone swells support glacial cadences exploring the most luscious regions of atmospheric expression, the listener cannot help but recall the great tragedies and successes of their lives in a reverberant waterfall, cascading into the darkest caverns of their soul.

More than a study helper or a yoga class playlist, “False Readings On” demands the listener’s immersion. The concluding behemoth of a track, “Posturing Through Metaphysical Collapse,” eases listeners into a churning ocean of modern classical beauty and rumbling noisescapes so gently that one cannot register the drowning effect until caressed to sleep by spellbinding strains.

Whether Cooper calls upon the colossal distortion of “Washer Logistics” or the fleeting sample collage of the title track, “False Readings On” taps into primeval wells of sublimity he has striven to reach since Eluvium’s inception. Anyone can buy a keyboard and loop a couple chords through weird effects, but only a man of true ingenuity can arrange the simple to evoke the incomprehensible.

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