Album Reviews

Max Cooper – Unspoken Words

(Mesh) UK release date: 25 March 2022

Audio-visual artist’s sixth album has much quality to offer and shows he’s in his headspace of pads and beats, a very well-oiled machine

Max Cooper - Unspoken Words With an album such as this, juxtaposition is the name of the game: the lo-fi, distorted pads should be as blurry as the percussion is sharp, the treble should rustle like the bass blares. Max Cooper is far from a newcomer, and Unspoken Words has quality to offer on both sides of the scale.

A Model Of Reality is an early highlight, as a rapid retriggering of Kotomi’s vocals coalesces into an infectious groove. It’s a very impressive mixture of ethereal and glitchy, with various effects rattling and intoning in the background. Elsewhere, Spectrum takes the type of syncopated chords that wouldn’t sound out of place on a house record and pairs them with skittering hi-hats on a mid-tempo pulse. The track progresses nicely, with its filter being tightened and released in the usual style, and if it weren’t for all the assorted sonic trickery one could mistake it for a tropical house tune.

Whether at 65 minutes the record is overly long is an academic question, as there is no clear filler – just Cooper in his headspace of pads and beats. Small Window On The Cosmos starts off meek and mild but builds just like it should, bass rasping against the confines of the mix and sustained notes echoing away. And for those who prefer things more uptempo, around the halfway point comes a foray into dubstep and drum n bass, the sound design a bewildering, unpredictable delight throughout.

Stream Of Thought is an appropriate closer, the ambience adorned by plinky droplets of tonality, culminating in a synth lead so bold and brash it could make Vangelis blush. It plays to a structural formula that’s familiar by now, but pulls it off well, and Unspoken Words is nothing if not a very well-oiled machine.

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