Now carrying his debut long-player ‘Human’ album like a newborn, carefully ensuring it reaches its absolute potential, London producer Max Cooper is stepping into the album market with purpose and poise. Out now on FIELDS, the album represents the culmination of so much promise, expressed on a series of preceding EPs and one-offs.
With Resident Advisor comparing his work to that of Philip Glass and Aphex Twin (at the same time?), and Clash writing that this material plugs electronic music “into the philosophical firmament”, Cooper’s evidently connecting with the right people, in the right ways. Check out our ‘Empyrean’ premiere here.
And check out Cooper’s Culture Clash selections below, beneath the video for ‘Empyrean’. Which is a bit bloody lovely.
- - -
- - -
Conversations On Consciousness by Susan Blackmore. This book comprises a selection of about 30 short interviews with leading scientists and philosophers involved in consciousness-related research. It’s an easy read on probably the most important and contentious issue in all of science and philosophy, and gives a bit of a balanced overview rather than the usual extended speculations contained in any one individual’s book on the topic. It’s nice how even though it’s all scientists and philosophers, who supposedly base all their work on logic and method, it all comes down to personal belief in the end, and they can’t seem to agree on much of a consensus on the “hard problem”.
Samsara is the follow up film to Baraka, both by Ron Fricke, and both full-length movies with no spoken words or standardised narrative. What you get is a barrage of beautiful, and in the case of the more modern Samara, insanely crisp and detailed, imagery, with accompanying music. A narrative does form as you watch, and it’s great for sparking conversation and thought. A film that’s somewhere between a work of art, a concert and a story.
- - -
- - -
Binaural Mics. These are just simple little stereo microphones, but ones that sit inside your ear canals. When you record external environments from inside your ears, the way sounds interact with your ears and head are captured in the recordings. For example, if a sound comes from behind, it is filtered by the ear differently than if it came from the front. That means when people listen back on headphones (which keep the left and right signals perfectly separated), you can subconsciously pick up these additional spatial signals, and sound, and music, can become all the more spatial and immersive. It’s a simple and powerful approach that is extremely useful in writing music, and also because the mics are inside your ears you can record without anyone realising, which is great for picking up natural events.
It was hard to choose just one game from all the childhood favourites (in recent years the writing music game is the only one I have time for – it’s really quite like a game, and I’d say a lot of my self-taught production approach relates to explorations of how games work and how to twist them to your advantage). But Super Bomberman was a favourite because of the insanely addictive multiplayer potential. It was the first four-player game I’d played (mid-’90s), and we all know that gaming is way more fun when you can beat your friends!
- - -
Leftfield, ‘Release The Pressure’, from ‘Leftism’
- - -
Leftfield’s ‘Leftism’ is a far-reaching electronic album that set an impossibly high standard forever more! It’s amazing this was released in 1995 too, it still sounds great in stylistically and in comparison to modern production. I love how it fuses all sorts of genres to bring a standard electronic music format to life, an approach I’m big on personally.
BBC Nature. Starting with Planet Earth, the BBC seemed to discover a golden format with David Attenborough, and the highest possible standard of filming and production, leading on to Frozen Planet, Africa, Life and no doubt more. It’s just the most beautiful film work with the most beautiful natural content and narration that’s impossible to top.
Ryoichi Kurokawa has an amazingly precise union of audio and visual in his exhibits and shows, and also a huge amount of detail, complexity and form, all of which I love. He seems to be at the top of the game for this sort of work, and it’s an absolute pleasure, as well as being very humbling, to watch and listen to it.
- - -
‘Human’ is out now. Find Max Cooper online here.
More Culture Clash articles – with Mø, Panic! At The Disco, Kele Okereke, Tom Odell and more – can be read here.