This was easily one of the best surprises to emerge at the start of 2014. Matthew Cooper of Eluvium fame; hot on the heels of his amazing Catalin LP, and Mark T Smith, guitarist for the legendary post-rockers, ‘Explosions In The Sky’ announced that they would be collaborating on a new album together for Temporary Residence.
The album has been out for a while now and i’ve been in no rush to put any words out on it, as you can tell. Instead i’ve spent much of the past few months absorbing plenty of music, letting much of it wash over me and picking up some of the stellar pieces that stand strong weeks later.
The track ‘Entity’ was our first full preview of what to expect from these guys a few months back, and still remains my favourite. Distant guitar lulls wrapped in Matthews hypnotic ambience and a distorted, alien-like vocal. It’s a softly-softly approach and gently rocks you into the world that straddles these two musical minds.
‘Flood Poems’ is like an extended Explosions In The Sky intro, with Mark taking center stage over gentle percussion with a simple guitar melody. Five minutes in and the track has signature EITS all over it, slowly climbing into daybreak as the guitar layers grow.
The euphoria expands in ‘Luminous Insects’ as a synth takes the lead, contradicting the gentle rumbling and tinkering in the background and drowning out any improv the two may have been predicting in this track. It’s like they had a base and decided to layer on this trance-like synth to really stick it to us, should we be getting too comfortable with their sound.
Matthew’s processing comes to life in ‘Peaceable Child’ as the first track with any kind of beat. Delays, and echoes muddle a piano as the beat slowly preempts the layered guitars to follow. This prelude, a gentle and conceived attempt at disguising the power in ‘Sun Locations, Sun Coda’, as the incessant drumming builds into another slightly warped yet charming outro – sun reflecting off the tide as it retreats back into the Pacific.
The head-nodding and smiles which usually follow any EITS track come alive in ‘Recipient’. On the face, a raw drum, surrounded in distortion, locks you on to the subtle vocal and background melody changes. A perfect example of a track that needs to be listened to in it’s entirety – a crafted journey.
By the time you’ve got to ‘Psychic automation’, you’re in tune with what these two are doing. Their sound lies amongst a deep understanding of both genres at play – ambient and post-rock music, which are both built on very subtle changes, distant but engrossing melodies and above all, the ability to lose the listener amongst complex arrangements, story-lines and journeys. Intentional beginnings, middles and ends.
It wasn’t until I watched the below video that this all made sense. Jamming on the Oregon Coast, Matthew and Mark have taken advantage of the natural beauty, the slow-pace and the company of each-other to create a masterpiece true to them both. With Matthew’s style always hard to pin down, and Mark’s strong style threatening to over-shadow any kind of subdued intricacy, they’ve created a one-of-a-kind album that straddles the multitude of styles at play and it’s a beauty.
Available on Temporary Residence.