Review: The Global Frost-Bitten Introspection Of Max Cooper’s ‘Reflect’

Max Cooper | Reflect (single) | Earth EP (ongoing) | MESH

Release Date: 4 September, 2020

For experimental-electronic musician, producer and DJ Max Cooper; the always multifaceted artist is well known for the incorporation of audio-visual components in his captivating works. The visual conceptalsaliation of the musician’s vision comes across as just as important as the music he crafts, especially with his signature DIY approach to each project he works on.

As part of an ongoing project for a new EP entitled ‘Earth’ Cooper is releasing each of the four tracks one by one with very specific short films as visual accompaniment to each song, working in collaboration with filmmakers / video artists as a lush companionship to his craft. 

Cooper himself has dived further into the DIY realm by creating the artwork for the ‘Earth’ himself: the stunning album art are extremely high definition photographs of leaves – more specifically, the vein structures into which the leaves divide and when living healthily, thrive.

The remarkably clear network of veins running through the leaves are a stark reminder of the remarkable complexity of the natural world, and with the conceptual take of ‘Earth’ in perfect tandem with his own artwork and the accompanying short films that have been released in collaboration are a notable and add a genuine and authentic sense of introspection to the works, along with exceptionally important information regarding the devastating loss of our natural world due to human.

In his latest and second single release ‘Reflect‘, Cooper has collaborated with video artist Jip Mus with both artists reflecting on the track:

The project began as so many others at the start of the lockdown period when everything was brought under inspection for all of us. And as often is the case, my writing process became a sort of balance, against my collapsing world of touring and new uncertainties. There’s something about focusing on a simple chord progression and the feeling it contains which often puts things into perspective.

What developed was the Earth EP, with a focus on the beauty and processes surrounding us, and our role amongst the system. I started chatting to Jip about the project and he had the great idea of linking the reflections of the music to those of ice and its role in reflecting light from the sun, linking in footage from his visits to Svalbard, research lab imagery of ice crystal formation from Wenting Zhu, and his own ice formation experiments.

Max Cooper on writing ‘Reflect’

The film is choreographed by a natural source; change of temperature. I was amazed by all the different shapes and movements water would make, a continuous dance of shifting into states of aggregation.

I got to visit Svalbard last November for a photo series and I was shocked to feel the rise of temperature in the Arctic so vividly.

When I first heard the music that Max sent me it gave me a melancholic feeling, the same feeling I felt seeing this island slowly disappear. I hope this film helps us understand the value of these places and that we need to preserve them to slow down the rapid changes of temperature on our planet.

Jip Mus on the video for ‘Reflect’

The pulsation of a distant, remote rhythm opens ‘Reflect’ as the video begins to blossom with visuals of intricate, sharp shards of ice; the tremble of the synthesizer at times quiet and muted, yet oscillating between pitches as it finds itself either in the forefront, or drenched in reverb. The ambient textures within the atmosphere crackle and break apart gently – amongst the fracture of a glacial fissure, the gradual separation of the frigid, icy sheets breaking apart from one another. 

Cooper’s signature artistic and experimental yet moveable style of composition shines through in the intricately layered soundscape, rich with an atmosphere that while in tune with video, doesn’t come across as melancholic as one may think. In this sense, the conceptual vision shimmers in the crackling of the frost-bitten ambience and visual hypnotism, as the track grows to a climatic end.

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Rating: 7 / 10

Feature Image: Max Cooper via Facebook / Bandcamp