Max Cooper - Balance 030

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  • In 2008, two years before pursuing music full time, Max Cooper was awarded a PhD in computational biology. As his recent records have shown, his academic background continues to inform his work. His last album, Emergence, was an interpretation of "natural laws and processes" that brought together music, visual art and science. Last year's Chromos EP, developed alongside researchers and the digital artist Andy Lomas, translated chromosome structures into audio and visual forms. Complex processes remain intrinsic to Cooper's latest project, a two-disc mix for Balance. Across nearly two hours and 36 songs, he stitches together field recordings, classical compositions, ambient electronica, breakbeats and techno. The label has said Cooper approached his task as much as a production as a DJ mix, and that's how it sounds: binaural processing, in which different auditory information is fed into each ear, was applied to about half the mix. Cooper's own "Music Of The Tides," one of the tracks given that treatment, is a standout. Layers of synths collapse over each other like lapping waves. It might be the mix's most uplifting moment, though there are a few others. There's Cooper's remix of Nils Frahm's "For," with beatific keys and a clipping beat that transition smoothly out of the classical section, and the lilting chords of Geotic's "Actually Smiling," beaming through the crunch and clatter of Cooper's "Balance Perc Tool." At the other end of the spectrum, tracks like Agrippa's "Ziplash" and Burnski's "Control" are rhythmic and steely. The agility with which he navigates between these poles is one of Balance 030's biggest strengths. Patrice Baumel's remix of "Organa" might sit as comfortably in an Afterlife set as it does here, but the way it transitions into the coolly melodic "Resynthesis," another track from Cooper, is one of several deftly handled switches from ravey tracks to more pensive moments. The mix gets heavier in the back end, notably via the invigorating one-two of HLZ's "Dream Source" and LSB's "About Tonight," and, later, Alix Perez's bassy, hulking "Blips." Some parting words from Thom Yorke might feel like a tired mix trope, but, couched between "Blips" and the tinny textures of Vaetxh's "Unfolding Mechanism," his voice on Atoms For Peace's "Default" never overpowers the mix. There's nothing particularly surprising about Balance 030, which features many of the artists Cooper has showcased on previous mixes—Rob Clouth (who contributes three tracks here), Tim Hecker, Nils Frahm and Vaetxh, among others. Still, it makes for a pleasurable listen, with an attention to detail that maximises its emotional impact.
  • Tracklist
      CD1 01. Ben Lukas Boysen, Sebastian Plano - A Greater Pattern 02. Bing And Ruth - The How Of It Sped 03. Nils Frahm - For (Max Cooper Remix) 04. Bxentric - Afon 05. Max Cooper - Balance (Perc Tool) 06. Geotic - Actually Smiling 07. Agrippa – Ziplash 08. Portable Sunsets - Straylight (Dave DK remix) 09. Max Cooper - Music Of The Tides 10. Nils Frahm, Olafur Arnalds - 23:52 11. Deapmash - Blocks 12. Burnski - Control 13. Tenebre - Axe Nord-Sud 14. Lusine - Ticking Hands feat. Sarah McIlwain 15. Donato Dozzy - A Ritmica 16. Batu - Stairwells 17. Max Cooper - Organa (Patrice Bäumel Balance Remix) 18. Max Cooper - Resynthesis CD2 19. Lusine - Tropopause (Loscil Remix) 20. Tim Hecker - Chimeras 21. Brecon - Half Light 22. Tessela - Helter Skelter 23. Rob Clouth - Shedding Layers 24. Hidden Orchestra - Wingbeats (Max Cooper Remix) 25. Rob Clouth - Transition (Ben Lukas Boysen Remix) 26. Kimyan Law - Luba 27. Com Truise - Ternary 28. Rob Clouth - Silica 29. HLZ - Dream Source 30. LSB - About Tonight 31. Lee Chapman - Believe In Something 32. Belief Defect - Disembarking Horizons 33. Alix Perez - Blips 34. Atoms For Peace - Default 35. Vaetxh - Unfolding Mechanism 36. Rival Consoles - What Sorrow