Eluvium : Talk Amongst The Trees

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“The organist peals out the obvious and approximate emotions on which the audience rocks unknowingly. I am anonymous and I have forgotten myself. It is always so when one goes to the movies, it is, as they say, a drug.” — an excerpt from In Dreams Begin Responsibilities, by Delmore Schwartz, the story of an unnamed narrator who finds himself in a movie theatre watching the courtship of his father and mother on screen.

There is, without doubt, a narcotic quality to Talk Amongst the Trees, the new album by Eluvium, the chosen moniker of Matthew Cooper. While certainly evoking emotion, Talk Amongst the Trees does so without approximation, which is not to say that the arrangements have not been carefully orchestrated. With each listen it becomes clearer, how in fact tightly wound these apparently sprawling and amorphous tracks really are. There is a structure to be discerned amidst the droning waves of sound, which follow one upon another drenched in aural fuzz. They act upon the subjective experience of the individual listener and open a theatre of images, at once innocent, nostalgic, full of both longing and possibility, in her mind.

Nearly void of recognizable instrumentation, save for the persistent chiming guitar of Taken and a few other moments wherein a guitar is detectable, Cooper’s compositions bring into close contact the strange and familiar. At some point I say to myself, I am listening to music, but I do not know from what the music comes. One is immersed in memories, but it is as if they are not a part of him, as if they are motion pictures, grainy black and white images veering wildly in and out of focus, full of familiar faces, places, moments, feelings, but curiously void of color. There is the distinct notion that these memories have fallen out of the context of your life, as if they exist alone on the screen, without chronological categorization—it is as if they have always existed that way, as if your mind has been the only thing keeping them neatly organized. You are a party in your own illusion, but when this becomes clear, for whatever reason, rocking gently upon a tranquil sea, folded in the sounds all around you, this fact seems not an impediment to life, but one of its silent charms. So I feel as I listen to this record.

“New Animals from the Air” begins the album on a tranquil note, steady and vital, which introduces us delicately into a particularly envisioned world. We watch the slow unfolding of moments which had previously seemed quite detached from one another, feel that they are part of a whole of experience, but that they exist quite solidly on their own. Somewhere there is the vaguely familiar sound of a guitar; it accompanies the vaguely familiar images of myself that exist in memory, never quite tangible enough to seem part of reality. “Calm of the Cast-Light Cloud” enters droningly, is ruptured throughout by roughly distorted, obscured sound. The images, which once stood apart from one another, are suddenly cluttered, they grow grainier, faces lose distinction, the screen is full of pops—the harmony has been rattled. Doubt as to the beauty of all we have been seeing arises. I hear Schwartz’s narrator calling out after his father has proposed: “Don’t do it. It’s not too late to change your minds, both of you. Nothing good will come of it, only remorse, hatred, scandal, and two children whose characters are monstrous.” A similar sensation is produced near the end of “Taken,” when a disorienting drone rises from beneath the anthem, but beyond after this moment we return to the relative stasis maintained throughout the greater portion of the album.

It is not until the final track desists, that we hear, ever so quietly, the voice of the usher in Schwartz’s story, hear him say as he leads us out of the theatre, “Don’t you know that you can’t do whatever you want to do?” We have left a strange and beautiful world, mildly narcotic no doubt, but one where everything seems possible. Fortunately the option remains to play the record again.

Similar albums:
Fennesz – Endless Summer
Brian Eno – Music for Airports
Sigur Ros – ( )

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