Recommended Listening: Eluvium - Virga II
I was first exposed to Matthew Cooper's music when I heard his 2006 EP, When I Live by the Garden and the Sea. But my favorite Eluvium release has to be 2019's Pianoworks - an album of 25 perfectly minimalist solo arrangements. Underwater Dream gets me every time, so when I traveled to the Oregon Coast last weekend, I thought that it might be nice to listen to Cooper's new album, Virga II, while on a morning seaside stroll. Besides alluding to oceanic themes in his titles, Cooper's music as Eluvium crests and ebbs like the tide. His ambient constructions seem made for PNW coastline vistas.
But it felt wrong to listen to music (not just Cooper's music, but any music) while walking along the shore. I didn't want to muffle the crashing waves, whistling wind, and bird calls. So I immersed myself in nature, then ran back to the house, jumped in the hot tub, cracked a beer, and turned on Virga II. Maybe it wasn't the listening environment that Cooper would have recommended, but it turned out to be just fine.
After all, Virga II is meant for relaxation. It is comprised of four extended loops - meditations to help listeners soothe anxieties. It is preceded, as you might guess, by Virga I, which came out near the start of the pandemic. So Cooper has taken these months to make two albums that are both beautiful and utilitarian.
Side A of Virga II includes Hallucination I, which sounds like a dlp clip, and buzzy drone Scarlet Hunter. But side B holds the album's best tracks. Touch Returned is a weightless, ethereal loop, and then the title cut gently carries us back down to Earth. Hear the closer for yourself below.
Sit with the entire album when you are able, as it works best when listened to uninterrupted from start to finish. Virga II is out now through Temporary Residence Ltd., and can be found through this link.
Also, a quick sidebar to all you Portlanders: is anyone in town connected with Cooper? He lives here, apparently, and according to his website, he enjoys nature, music, books, wine, and tea. Sounds like we should all hang out!