Search The Line of Best Fit
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Eluvium presents a restless rapture on (Whirring Marvels In) Consensus Reality

"(Whirring Marvels In) Consensus Reality"

Release date: 12 May 2023
Eluvium - (Whirring Marvels In) Consensus Reality cover
15 May 2023, 09:00 Written by Jack Bray

For over two decades, Eluvium has steadily cemented his position as a curveball composer.

What I mean by this – and to be clear, I mean it as a compliment – is that you can never be totally sure what you’ll get from the Oregon-based ambient artist. Yes, every release plays within the ambient framework. Still, it’s the way that Eluvium – real name Matthew Robert Cooper – frequently deconstructs and reconstitutes that framework that excites and inspires in equal measure.

Across Cooper’s most recent full-length releases, whether it was 2019’s Pianoworks, or Virga I & II – released in 2021 and 2022 respectively – there’s a palpable sense that no single musical space will do. As a result, these albums almost defy definition. (Whirring Marvels In) Consensus Reality is aligned strongly to this tradition. Here, Cooper embraces a full live orchestra for the first time, as well as several new, self-imposed compositional techniques to refigure his sound and find form in the formless. The results are transformative.

For example, album opener, "Escapement" instantly distinguishes (Whirring Marvels In) from previous efforts. Swirling strings interspersed with delicate percussion welcome you in, slowly giving way to the unbendable optimism of "Swift Automatons" and its artificial exploration of our complicated relationship with technology, automation, and algorithms in 2023.

Elsewhere, "Vibration Consensus Reality (for Spectral Multiband Resonator)" switches skilfully from solemnity to sincerity in a way that feels near effortless in its urgency and timelessness. Similarly, "Void Manifest" blends veiled choral invocations blissfully with the accompanying orchestra to present a near-numinous ascent to glory that is at once otherworldly and divine.

The greatest strength of (Whirring Marvels In) Consensus Reality is its commitment to opposing ideas and the curveballs it throws your way in pursuit of them. Where one song might see Cooper deal with the onward march of technology, another will see him harken back to the kind of loneliness and isolationism many of us will recognise from our time in lockdown.

For many, this level of variety will easily be the most intoxicating element of the release but for others, it could prove an inalienable weakness. Whilst there’s a great range of material to lose yourself in here, it can at some points feel a little like (Whirring Marvels In) Consensus Reality is composed of many different albums – switching swiftly as they do between ideas from song to song. Your mileage will vary, and the excited mixture of material did little to affect my enjoyment of the album, but it’s worth pointing out nonetheless.

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