AMN Reviews: Eluvium – Nightmare Ending (Temporary Residence)

Double album gestating for three years, Eluvium´s Nightmare Ending had its genesis in Matthew Cooper´s desire to work some things out, stating that each track is either a “dream” or an “imperfection”. Cooper boasts a comely guitar and piano-centric ambient back catalogue as Eluvium, as well as an excellent film score, Some Days Are Better Than Others, under his own name.

The concrete is only ever the partial realization of what we had in mind. While both life and art may very well be dreams within imperfect dreams, Eluvium is vivid and fastidious in execution. So much fresh air, so much clear light, and a stern hand with grainy surfaces. The seemingly endless eddy of “Unknown Variation”, broken off suddenly and arbitrarily after almost nine minutes, is an imperfection with which we´ll have to live. Cooper consoles us by “Caroling”, a simple but seemly melody for solo piano. There are many such special moments alone at the ivories on Nightmare Ending. The first disc concludes with “Envenom Mettle” co-played with Mark T. Smith of Explosions in the Sky, a martial snare moonshot into a meteor shower.

Disc Two opens with Cooper once again at the piano in the midst of the maelstorm, until it begins to “Rain Gently” as a looping, building guitar drone à la Fripp and Eno rolls in like a cleansing thunderhead. An electronic breeze sweeps away another elegant piano melody on “Covered in Writing”, like wind blowing patterns out of the sand. To close, Ira Kaplan of Yo Lo Tengo quietly murmurs a bittersweet ballad about “Happiness”. Does that sound like a nightmare to you?

Stephen Fruitman

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