I’ve never been able to listen to music while doing something that requires a lot of brainpower. I’ve never been able to listen to music while falling asleep. I’ve also never been able to listen to modern music that lacks vocals, including techno or the ever-dreaded neo-space rock. Until, that is, I listened to Eluvium, Matthew Cooper’s space rock electronica affair that borrows Brian Eno’s blueprint and expands on it wonderfully.
It seems Cooper, the slightly off mind behind Lambent Material, his full-length debut, has created an instrumental album for two specific purposes. First, to help listeners fall into a black void of sleep (with the exception of the 15-minute "Zerthis was a Shivering Human Image"). And second, to allow listeners to wallow in any particular emotion they damn well please without being told how to feel by a self-righteous rock artist.
The first two tracks, "The Unfinished" and "Under the Water it Glowed," are smoothed into one soft, repetitive lullaby that is oddly appealing, leading up to the climax of the album, "There Wasn’t Anything." The combination of the soft, slow piano and the people faintly talking, laughing and making random noises in the background invoke a flashback feeling, as if you are an outsider looking in on an unknown scene that is filled with your own experience or memory.
"Zerthis Was a Shivering Human Image" is composed of a steadily increasing sound of musical noise reminiscent of television static with a support of background organ sounds. The simple television-static sound has such an intense impact that I eventually skip to "I Am So Much More Me That You Are … " the album’s fifth and final track, a quiet rhythm that concludes with the sound of a far-away truck pulling out from you, smoothly beckoning the end of the album.
Eluvium makes you think without telling you anything, an alternative to all the "messages" artists want to impound into your head. It will leave you sitting still for a few moments after the music stops, wandering off into your own little world. At least until reality comes back and, as in my case, your sarcastic father wanders into your room spouting summer job opportunities such as cleaning up dog droppings for $9 a week.