Matthew Cooper - "Some Days are Better than Others" (Some Days are Better than Others)
As a spectator, keeping track of the lines that demarcate a single artistís multiple musical personas can be trying. Some use different aliases or project names to prevent confusion. Matthew Cooper, on the other hand, offers up a subtler case study. You might not think you know his music based on name recognition, but youíre an aficionado of the ambient/drone world, itís likely that youíve heard of (if not flat-out heard) Eluvium. (Heís also toured with Explosions in the Sky, remixed the Black Heart Procession, and released a split album with Jesu.) His latest work is the soundtrack to the independent film Some Days are Better than Others; regardless of the context of the accompanying film, itís a strong work, modest in scope and quite affecting in spots.
Cooper released the album Miniatures under his full name (Matthew Robert Cooper) in 2008 -- and while it wasnít a significant departure from his work as Eluvium, evidence of demarcation was there. The chief point separating Cooperís work under his own name and his work as Eluvium seems to be that of complexity. While Eluviumís work isnít particularly baroque, the latest album, Similies, found Cooper exploring a greater stylistic range than before, incorporating Eno-esque vocals and lyrics in the mix. Cooperís own work is simpler: long, sustained passages, approaching but never quite reaching epiphany. This albumís ďWhat You Leave BehindĒ (for instance) is a somber piece built around what sounds like a church organ; a halting melody (or the suggestion of one) almost emerges, then slips away. Much of the album proceeds in this vein, and its modest scope restrains Cooperís occasional tangents into sentimentality.
That said, the most memorable parts of this album come at the very end, during its most layered compositions. Both ďCamille and the OceanĒ and the title track (or theme?) introduce more complexity into the structure, taking a basic theme and pitting it against numerous counterpoints and washes of sound. It isnít necessarily innovative, but itís no less effective -- music that effectively blends the romantic with the narcotic. Itís worth remembering that Similies was recorded after Cooper wrote this soundtrack. Given that that album upended the established sound of Eluvium, itís unclear whether Some Days are Better than Others represents a reinforcement of the sound heard on Minuatures, or whether Cooperís work under his own name is about to undergo a similar leap. Given the quality of the work heard on Some Days are Better than Others, Cooper has offered a number of reasons to keep listening.