The UK producer showcased his raw, but expert chops with an electrifying performance at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza last semester. It was a strong preview of his upcoming material, which is set to debut next week as a full-length album called Human. It will be the culmination of his seven years’ experience in music, during which he released over fifty original mixes, including last year’s “Quantet.”
On Human, Cooper strays from club music and into the ambient genre he is particularly fond of. He also gets quite literal, as most of the tracks on the album can be determined by their titles. The opening track, “Woven Ancestry,” for example, is exactly the narrative its title connotes: it is a pseudo-score to some fantasy saga film’s quintessential opening monologue, during which the narrator inevitably comments on “the fabric of time.”
“Supine” is the only piece that doesn’t conform to this assumption. Its upbeat percussion, synth, and Area 51 noises orchestrate an auditory Möbius strip before the entire soundscape dissolves into cognitive resonance.
Four tracks later, “Empyrean” begins with an arching melodic theme similar to the one at the end of “Supine.” It evolves from its opening into a sparkly keyboard progression, and right into a night sky spotted with claps and shuffles. It is difficult to tell when one track ends and when the next starts on Human; “Apparitions,” for one, changes gears from melodic to mechanical and then juxtaposes the two styles against each other by layering a stray interval test atop spastic robot sounds.
The album also features three songs with guest artists Kathrin deBoer of Belleruche and Raphaelle Standell-Preston of BRAIDS, both of whom Cooper worked with on previous projects. “Adrift,” a seven-minute behemoth released last December, is one of the vocal tracks. “My feet don’t touch the ground,” deBoer sings organically and jazzily on the tune. The other deBoer offering, “Numb,” is a bass-driven, less concrete hitter.
The third vocal feature, “Automation,” allows vocalist Standell-Preston to shine.
Along with introducing collaborative singers, Cooper stays true to the album title and explores the psyche on Human. “It’s my attempt to put some concepts common to all humans, into musical form,” he told A Strangely Isolated Place. One of those concepts, the motif of disconnection, occurs on number “Impacts” where he gets profound with a rhythmic clarity; other life themes are explored on “Potency.” Finally, on “Awakening,” Cooper’s assessment of the human condition ceases, leaving the listener in a comfortable limbo. It is a song that cautions fans to emerge from the record slowly. Don’t open your eyes now, says the end of “Awakening.” The light may blind you.
Human will be available March 10. But until then, stream the entire album at Pitchfork.
Article by Joanna Jiang