Emergence is the audio component of an audio-visual tour extravaganza, portions of which have been lighting up concert halls for years and Vimeo Staff Picks for months. A movie is slated to follow. The overall project is also a mathematic / scientific excursion, ambitiously beginning with the Big Bang and stretching into an unknown (but potentially predictable) future.
For now, there are two ways to experience Emergence, the recommended way on the artist’s website, the other way via the music alone. Fair warning: while there are eleven videos on the website and eleven songs on the album, the two don’t always match. For example, the website’s beautiful opening track, laden with tender piano and luscious strings, can be found on the Artefact EP, while the “Origins” hails from the Kindred EP. This is the project’s only missed opportunity, one that we expect to see corrected on a DVD. Suffice it to say that the live version is longer than the studio version (as one would hope!) but that excellent excerpts are found in each department.
So let’s start with “Waves”, a gentle, rolling track with corresponding visuals, fields of undulating white, black and orange that play pleasant tricks on the eye. As a song, “Waves” is softly appealing; but Kevin McLoughlin makes it memorable. The larger the screen, the more effective the effects; one can imagine theatre audiences mesmerized. In his description, Cooper speaks of waves of every form, which reminds this reviewer of Gavin Pretor-Pinney’s popular book The Wavewatcher’s Companion. And the album’s absolute stunner in both forms is “Order from Chaos”, which begins with the sound (and colorful depictions of) raindrops and unfolds into an elegant suite of movement and grace, while poising itself for the dance floor. Maxime Causeret turns the raindrops into cells and simple organisms reminiscent of jellyfish and spiders, a coloring book brought to life, and closes on the image of a single shedding flower.
The color scheme of “Cycles” is particularly engaging, reminiscent of the Little Golden Books of the mid-20th century (especially The Color Kittens). Cooper’s music runs through multiple algorithms while Numbercult’s lines follow suit, but the luscious shades warm the song from cool to hot. When one returns to the track on the album alone, the aftereffects of the images follow, lending the album greater depth through association. Similar effects can be found on Vicetto’s video for “Hiatus”, the song found on the Amalgamations EP; both the track and the video have aged remarkably well.
We’re looking forward to more videos from the album, especially for “Symmetry”, the album’s opener, which moves from ambience to wild percussion. The site’s still image of a mandala is worth framing. The rollicking “Seed” (one of many tracks to feature Kathryn DeBoer, in this instance wordless) seems a natural candidate as well. The sharper the sounds, the more mathematic they seem; the softer, the more they imply nature. Cooper has tied his various interests together on this career-spanning, multi-media project, yet we suspect it’s only the start; we’re already excited for the movie. (Richard Allen)