isolatedmix 64 - Eluvium


Every now and then an album comes along that helps you witness the never-ending journey and evolution of music. Limitless, creative and inspiring, Matthew Cooper, aka Eluvium has consistently pushed the boundaries of his sound since his debut back in 2003, and his latest album, False Readings On, is perhaps his finest jump into the unexpected deep waters of ambient music.

It's an album that draws on contradictions, stark contrasts and a range of ingenious sound approaches, varying from experimental drones, to poised, angelic vocals. It's a subtle jolt in every direction; just when you thought you had him down; Matthew comes surging over the top with a dense smack in the face, full of deep textures and spine-tingling operatic highs.

With such an avid following after years of solid work, both as himself, and as part of Inventions (alongside Mark T Smith of Explosions In The Sky) it has been a dream of mine to see an Eluvium isolatedmix. Just like each of his albums, I would be wondering on his particular angle, inspirations and approach to any extended journey he might dive into. Without him saying so, Matthew's isolatedmix draws a strong comparison to False Readings On; juxtaposing, surprising and uninhabited, full of moments of beauty and of course, new and unique edits on old styles.

I also got the chance to ask Matthew a few questions, so press play on the mix and jump below to find out what Pixar, Portland and the Opera are doing within the world of Eluvium.

False Readings On is now available on Temporary Residence.

"So, I guess I was interested in building a sort of haunting but comforting place.  I wanted to feel like, as a listener, I was being pulled from dream to dream, or scene to scene, almost like the Kurosawa film “Dreams” . A mixture of melodies and feelings from the past all floating by. I also really enjoy the juxtaposition of old vocal stuff and more drone-noise stuff. I think they go well together, and I was really in the mood for some drone noise sounds from a few of my old favorites. I did some mild “toying” with some of the tracks, pretty subtle… but I wanted to carry it that much more into a strange and obfuscated realm, and it helped blend a few things together too.  Quite a few of the pieces are considerably shortened in order to help with the flurry of various images and feelings blending together. 

Thanks for listening and caring. It was enjoyable to put together. I like making things like this.” - Matthew Cooper/Eluvium.



1. Rain & Static
2. Valley Of The Giants - Whaling Tale (Momentary Excerpt) [s/t]
3. Scott Tuma - Untitled 4 [The River 1,2,3,4]
4. Moondog - Cuplet [s/t]
5. Eluvium - False Readings On [False Readings On]
6. Chris Smith - Replacement (Excerpt) [Map Ends 1995-2001]
7. Billie Holiday - Please Tell Me Now (Softly Confuzzled Mix) [Collection]
8. James Ferraro - Memory Theater (Excerpt) [Marble Surf] + Chant De Meule / Milling Song  - Unknown Vocalists [Music Of The Ouldeme] 
9. The Ink Spots - To Each His Own [Greatest Hits] Csengeri - Thunderstorm Field Recordings,  John Cage / Stephen Drury - Dream (Excerpt) [In A Landscape]
10. Dinah Shore - When I Grow To Old To Dream (Gently Warbled Mix) [In Person With Dinah Shore]
11. Eluvium - Regenerative Being [False Readings On]
12. The Ronettes - Be My Baby (Slightly Melting Mix) [Best Of The Ronettes]
13. Thomas Newman - OJ Savice [In The Bedroom OST] + Croatian Folk Song +
Eluvium - Drowning Tone [False Readings On]
14. Gavin Bryars - The Sinking Of The Titanic [Obscure Records Edition]

~ Interview ~

Hi Matthew. Many thanks for taking the time to speak alongside your stunning isolatedmix. Your new album is probably my favorite release of yours so far and it sounds like it is for many other people. How are you feeling about it all so far? Happy with the response? Was it easy to get this one finished out of the studio?

Thank you for saying that, and YES. It really seems like people are responding quite strongly to the album. I’m never sure what to expect but I’m genuinely surprised by the positive thoughts people are sending my way. It makes me happy to know that so many people can connect with it. 

As far as getting it out and finished etc… it was a pretty difficult ride for me. I went through some bits of anxiety and distress during the process of making this one. Things are getting better now though and it feels good.

I remember reading that you holed yourself up to create an Inventions album. Where was this one conceived? How long did it take? 

Yes, for the Inventions records (so far at least) we have always gone to a house on the Oregon coast and created and recorded and mixed while looking out at the ocean.

This album was made in my home studio in its entirety. I believe the process from start to finish was probably close to a year or year and a half. I do take breaks to sleep and eat and walk the dogs though. Honestly it would be nowhere near that long that if I was actually always working in the studio. Lots of time is spent waiting too. I’ve never been the type of person that can just go into a studio over a few days and complete a record that I would be happy with… or maybe I could, but I doubt it. I really like to take a long amount of time to focus and finesse things and write pieces as they come and let the songs grow and have it all take place in the studio. So doing so in my own place makes the most sense.

I see the album as a very unique sound when it comes to the majority of ambient/experimental music out there right now. Was there an overarching idea behind the album and its approach? Did you set out to make something very different?

I did set out to make something different. I feel like it is a little more aggressive than anything I’ve done in the past. It also has darker themes throughout, which is new to me as I’ve usually tried to stay in the positive spectrum with my music.  The overarching ideas are themes of perspective, perception, belief, misinformation, cognitive dissonance, and confirmation bias within our individual selfs and as a society. And what these things do to the nature of the human being.

I can sense the stark contrasts, from washes of heavy drones, to piano and atmospheric orchestral elements. Can you tell us a little bit about the thinking behind this approach?

I generally don’t think to much about these things on an album basis. As the album just naturally creates itself for me. I do think along these lines on a song by song basis, though.  I tend to try to have an understanding of what I’m trying to convey once I have some bare bones laid down, and choose instrumentation based off of what I feel would best communicate that feeling. Sometimes it is also just throwing a ton of things into a mix and finding out what works and what doesn’t. If I have a melody line in mind, I sometimes know exactly what I want it to be played on. But sometimes I just have to play it on lots and lots of instruments and figure out which one actually feels best and most natural.. or most confusing, if that is the feeling I want to convey.

You’re obviously a talented multi-instrumentalist; what types of instruments, software and hardware were used in the making of the album? Do you have a favorite?

I was using a great many keyboards both modern synthesizers and broken old Casio's and Yamaha's. It also involved modular synthesis, quite a few VST synthesizers, some blank tapes and statics and wow and flutter from them, field recordings, samples, and some Youtube.  The modular synth is my current favorite. I’ve been enjoying using it for many different purposes for the past year or so. Beyond its application to any recordings, I just find it very peaceful to sit with and develop sounds on, and then just sit and listen for a while, and maybe make small changes, and then destroy it. It is like burning a painting after completion, or like a Tibetan Sand Mandala. 

Do you ever have a dream that upon waking stays with you all day and makes you feel a little off about things?
— Eluvium

There are lots of voices and operatic vocals featured in the album and they add a beautiful, unexpected element to the recording. What was the thinking behind these inclusions? Are you a fan of Opera?

I had two purposes for the lyrics. One was to ensure that there was a purity and richness that could reach out above the chaos and noise, but I also had specific words and sentences that I wanted to include throughout the album. They were created by taking samples of very very old recordings. I had some words that I translated into Latin and Italian, and then took the samples apart note by note and put them together to phonetically sound out the “libretto” of the album. I wasn’t always able to perfectly hit it, without sacrificing some musicality, so I’d let the music lead me. But i didn’t want the sounds to be meaningless. I knew no one would ever understand them, but it was important that they carried weight.  I do like opera. I’m not a huge fan or anything. I like the Arias. Doesn’t everyone like the Arias?

You mention dreams in your mix inspiration, was this also the case for the album? 

Dreams were not the direct inspiration, as I mentioned before about the concepts for the album. But I do think that they very much play a role in creating confusion within us and how we think we might feel about things. Do you ever have a dream that upon waking stays with you all day and makes you feel a little off about things?

Your music has recently been described as pop ambient, maximalism and ultimately, experimental. How do you continue to push the boundaries with your sound and approach? Do you set-out to make a distinct sound or is it purely experimental in approach?

I’m not sure. I guess it is very much experimental in my approach, and my consideration of what themes I will be looking at. But I think there is also an inherent “me” that will always show up and that is the connecting fabric of everything I do.  Also - quite simply, I get bored easily with whatever it is I’ve just done and simply want to try something different that I haven’t done before. Sometimes these changes are subtle and sometimes they are more dramatic. It isn’t quite so “planned” as some people/reviewers tend to think. I just go with the flow. Resistance is futile. I’d just consider myself lucky enough that people still care and enjoy what I do.  I know I haven’t made it an easy ride to follow, but it isn’t purposeful, it is just wanderlust, I think.  People try to draw a deeper picture than necessary when it comes to the route taken.

So, Portland. I lived there for 3 years up until a year ago (I'm gutted I didn’t bump into you or see you at a show!) The ambient scene was great though, with some really amazing people making it happen. Do you enjoy what’s going on there? Is it somewhere you’ll call home for a while? 

Haha. You should’ve just gone to the book store. I was probably in the fiction section.
As far as enjoying what is going on here. Absolutely, there is always very interesting music coming out of this area and the community is really great and for the most part supportive. But things change and the city gets bigger and loses some of those things along the way. It is the nature of life.  Honestly, I don’t even get out very much here. I’ve never truly felt like a part of the music scene at all, but that has less to do with the scene and more to do with my social anxieties.  Nonetheless, yes, with all the changes occurring and rapidly destroying the old town I loved so dearly, it is still home to me, and it will probably still be home to me once the cool points fade away too. — I’d like to travel and take in some other cities more though. Live in Europe for a while, etc… but the Pacific Northwest will probably always be home, in one way or another.

Is that the sound from the film 'Contact' at the end of 'Fugue State’?!

It is the sound of the transmission they receive which include the plans to build the wormhole machine. 

Lastly, based on your track title ‘Movie Night Revisited’, what’s playing at your house when we all come over for a film night? 

hmmm….so many to choose from… I’d probably start with something from Pixar. Then move into the dark comedy “The ‘Burbs” starring the more early physical comedy of Tom Hanks, and finish off with “My Dinner With Andre”. Those are probably my 3 favorites ( with the Pixar one changing title from time to time). But I’m also really into anything late 1940s or late 30s - so maybe “You Can’t Take It With You”, or “The Thin Man” series, or “Larceny Inc.” We’d be up all night. Why not Kurosawa’s “Dreams” while we’re at it.


Optic Echo Presents – Best Vinyl of 2015


Mike Jedlicka's Optic Echo radio show consistently serves up some of the best ambient, experimental and modern classical vinyl-only selections. In this special edition, Mike has curated some of his favorite vinyl of the year specially prepared for Headphone Commute.

As you would expect from a weekly show trying to summarize a years worth of wax purchases, it was no doubt an arduous task narrowing it downvand the result is a lovely journey through the many styles Mike covers on his show.

Mike's included some of my favorite vinyl of the year too, namely Night Sequels, 36, wndfrm, Benoit Poulard and Inventions, all sitting proudly in my best of 2015 lists. And a big thanks to Mike for also selecting Arovane & Hior Chronik's release.

Check out the Optic Echo Mixcloud page for all of the previous shows and Headphone Commute for full details and all download options.


Mountains – Parallel Two – You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever
Kreng – Bargaining- The Summoner
Night Sequels – Siamese Summer – Children of the Night Make Music
Jon Hopkins – I Remember (Nils Frahm Dub Interrupt Remix) – I Remember 10”
Four Tet – Morning Side – Morning / Evening
Max Richter – Space 11 (Invisible Pages Over)- From Sleep
Shuttle358 – Can You Prove I Was Born?
Andrew Weathers – We Will Never See A Cloud Again – Fuck Everybody, You Can do Anything
VA (Marcus Fischer) – Field Works: Progue’s Run
Rival Consoles – Ghosting – Howl
Pye Corner Audio – Quasar II – Stars Shine Like Eyes 10”
Benoit Poulard – Whose Palms Create – Sonnet
36 – Sky Fire – Pulse Dive
wndfrm – Monopole – Formal Variant EP
Christina Vantzou – Stereoscope – No. 3
T.Raumschmiere – 007 – T.Raumschmiere
Inventions – Wolfkids – Maze of Woods
Nils Frahm – Our Own Roof – Music For The Motion Picture Victoria
Arovane & Hior Chronik – Scale – In-between [BUY]
Valet – Transformation – Nature
Anduin – Last Days of Montrose House 10”
Helm – I Exist In A Fog – Olympic Mess
Kamran Sadeghi – The Right Direction is Left
Lawrence English – Antarctica – Viento
Olafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm – Three – Loon
Celer – Distant Misgivings – Jima


Passing by: Inventions, Sonitus Eco, Rafael Anton Irisarri, 36, Undisclosed


I’ve started 2015 by sinking my teeth into some awesome vinyl releases. Must be the bug, given ASIPV002 is out in just a few weeks (26th!) Only some kind of musical illness can excuse vinyl purchases straight after Christmas, even Biosphere is on the hunt to get his first ever album repressed over at Kickstarter.

Inventions – Maze of Woods

You may recall Inventions’ debut self-titled album last year after my review here, and longtime friends Matthew Cooper of Eluvium, and Mark T. Smith of Explosions In The Sky have just gone and surprised us with a new appealing limited vinyl release. Maze of Woods comes as a coloured double vinyl package, featuring a remix disc with none other than The Field on duty, and A Winged Victory For The Sullen’s very first remix, all on a clear/red wax. Available on Temporary Residence.


Sonitus Eco – The Light Between Oceans

Silent Season start the year strong with a vinyl release from Sonitus Eco, a deep and mystifying techno LP. Mastered by none other thanNeel, the driving force in the first track, Storegga Slide, haunts with a dirty undercurrent that reminds me of Biosphere’s N-Plants work a few years back. 100 blue Vinyl and 200 Black are available on Juno.


Rafael Anton Irisarri – Hopes and Past Desires (repress)

In January of 2009 Immune released the beautiful 12 minute 7″EP from Rafael Anton Irisarri titled Hopes and Past Desires. Originally released in an edition of 500 that has been sold out for years and is now getting a repress. Emotional strings and delicate sound design compliment each other in this must-have piece of vinyl. Available through Immune Recordings.


36 – Pulse Dive

The vinyl has already sold out unfortunately (a matter of hours) but that’s no excuse to not talk about great music. This is one of my favourites from Dennis, featuring a more energetic stance compared to his more renowned immersive ambient approach. The title track,Pulse Dive reminds me of a modern take on some early 70’s synth work, crossed with Global Communications infamous album, 74:16 with pinches of Petar Dundov’s more trance-inducing techno productions. Available on Bandcamp.


Undisclosed – Undisclosed

Last but not least, and a slight anomaly in the post (not a vinyl release – just yet anyway) is this mysterious EP titled Undisclosed. Conceived by our friend over at Headphone Commute, the EP is a gathering of likeminded artists looking to explore new production approaches – “the project allows each musician to explore a particular sonic territory, while remaining detached from all of the previous associations with their notable name”. Out on January 16th, we can be sure that the quality associated with HC will follow through on this release, and on on first listen, the site’s experimental and modern-classical ethos will shine through across the four elusive tracks. Available January 16th on Bandcamp.

Image taken on New Years Eve at Cape Kiwanda, OR – the last sunset of 2014 – ASIP.

Inventions - Inventions

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.


Passing by: Tegh, Inventions, Loscil, The Green Kingdom and Ulf Lohmann

Tegh – Night Scenes

Debut full length from Iranian producer Shahin Entezami on Inner Ocean Records (First Porya from Iran, now Shahin!) This is classic, expansive ambient music that’s perfect for reflection, window watching and imagineering. Download from Bandcamp (Name Your Price).


Inventions – Entity

The mighty Eluvium and Explosions In The Sky guitarist Mark Smith are teaming up for a new project titled ‘Inventions’. This track, taken from the self-titled album, is absolutely breathtaking, and i’ll be on the order as soon as it’s available (1st April) via Temporary Residence.


Loscil – Fury

Loscil hits the road this month alongside Fieldhead and with it, comes a split-tour CD. “Although not a collaboration in the strictest sense, sounds were shared by each artist allowing for a sort of aural infusion between the compositions”. As you’d expect from Scott, another masterpiece, albeit perhaps a little more accessible than his previous dark and mysterious tendencies. Seems like the release will be available to those who can catch him on tour first, with digital following on March 10th on Gizeh.


The Green Kingdom – Expanses

This one’s been on Bandcamp for a few weeks now and i’ve seen a few of you guys picking it up already. For those aware of The Green Kingdom, this masterpiece will come as no surprise. Deep textures, field recordings, and dubby elements make for a defining piece of work for Mike Cottone: “This album is, for all intents and purposes, a homage to classic ambient and ambient techno albums of the past”. Available on Bandcamp.


Ulf Lohmann – PCC

I’m cheating a bit now, because the sample below isn’t even the full track, and i’ve already devoted a whole post to Kompakt’s Pop Ambient 2014. But just give it a listen. It’s bloody good. I wish the track was out there in its entirety. Read the full review of Pop Ambient here.


And last but not least, can someone please explain to this guy why Nils Frahm is a genius, and not a ‘piano mess’?

Photo @astrangelyisolatedplace