If I were to have some sex while afloat in a sea of stars circling saturn, I'm pretty sure the new Max Cooper album would be my soundtrack.
— GrilledCheeseSamurai (@GrCheeseSamurai) March 16, 2014
Mr. Samurai has a point; the album feels much like a celestial expedition billions of miles above the earth, the listener floating among the cosmos in a capsule lined with bleeping buttons, blinking screens, and whirring machinery. But honestly, as much as I’m down for the intimate company of the opposite sex, I would prefer to enjoy this album alone. It’s a deep examination into the human consciousness, and listeners would be most fulfilled by taking such a personal contemplative journey on their own.
Cooper’s concept behind Human, his first full-length release, is the human condition. Each track conveys a common theme – anger, warmth, relaxation, loneliness – thereby providing a look into the wide array of complex human emotion. The album twists and turns from one theme to the next, at times eerie and brooding, then abrasive and raging, and even soft and beautiful.
After spending the last seven or so years releasing EPs, Human is a new opportunity for Cooper to move away from club tracks and create something with a deeper, more personal concept. Though the album is intended for home listening, a number of the tracks will surely find their way onto the dancefloor. “Impacts,” in particular, is one of the album’s standout tracks with a battering cluster of drum beats and glitches ideal for a prime-time techno set.
“Seething,” intended to reflect the intensity of anger, begins with a subtle tension building into a jarring melody with layers of jagged beats and wailing tones. Kathrin deBoer lends her compelling vocals to “Adrift” and “Numb,” adding a beautiful melancholy to Cooper’s stuttering beats. These are the only two tracks that feature explicit vocals; Human is heavily industrial, at times resembling factory machinery – which might be surprising for an album intended to reflect human emotion. This is intentional: Cooper, a former genetic physicist, sees humans as biological machines. His ability to evoke profound emotions with mechanical noises speaks to his skill as a musician.
It was clear from his first releases that Max Cooper is a rare talent, but Human showcases the true breadth of what he can create. By freeing himself of the rules of club tracks, Cooper has created a comprehensive work of art that escapes traditional genre classification and instead appeals to the universal experiences of human consciousness. Either with a partner or alone, Human is a vibrant journey through both emotion and sound.
1. Woven Ancestry
2. Adrift feat. Kathrin deBoer
3. Automaton feat. BRAIDS
6. Numb feat. Kathrin deBoer