Max Cooper: ‘Emergence’


‘No boundaries’. This expression doesn’t need to be spread over anymore: it’s a fact. Those who attended on Friday, November 17th, to A Taste of Sónar+D 2016’ last event at Mazda Space in Barcelona had the opportunity to listen to artist and member of European Commission Peter Friess’ speech, before getting captured on V.I.C.T.O.R., an impressive performance by Golden Bug (Antoine Harispuru) in musical nuances with Desilence’s visuals (Tatiana Halbach and Søren Christensen), a BCN based design studio team. In brief, his words were meant in a holistic point of view, related to the creativeness of crossing different disciplines: art, science, and technology. Although this attitude is not new, for all we know and feel, with all those tools we have, this creative paradigm has been definitely propelled as an emergence.

Now and then, many musicians had surfaced with scientific interests on their works. Electro/Techno producer E.R.P. (Gerard Hanson) is one of the artists involved in Solar One’s Hubble Telescope Series, feeling almost academic with his dreamy perspective of beyond. But the most relevant is that some earthy members of the scientific community had turned to the artistic expression field. There is Floating Points (Sam Shepherd), a former neurobiologist who left science behind as profession to focus in his musical career and become a producer and a record spinner. For the purpose of this post, here is Max Cooper, born in 1980 and raised in Belfast, a geneticist who leaded to a PhD in computational biology in 2008 focusing on the evolution of gene regulatory networks. During his university years he had time for genetics and Djing, releasing his first work in 2007, EP ‘One is None’ (Evolved Records). After a brief post-doctoral position as geneticist at University College London, he decided to keep making records expanding his musical palette to psychoacoustics, 3D sound design and field recordings to emerge as a noticeable musician. He placed himself somewhere between emotional dancefloor experimentation, fine-art design, and an endlessly will to show scientific world’s rules through musical patterns and visual applications. His musical career includes singles and EPs to an amount of thirty, with a first full-length album, ‘Human’, released by Fields in 2014. He has worked with avant-garde composers like Michael Nyman and Nils Frahm, and has remixed Hot Chip, Halls, Au Revoir Simone, BRAIDS and MMOTHS to name a few. Now he is about to release his sophomore album, ‘Emergence’, due to November 25th on Mesh Records, his own label.

The album comes as the Emergence A/V show’ spinning release, an audio-visual experience  that took place at London’s Village Underground in Autum 2015, an interdisciplinary performance, involving scientific research, data representation, sound design and film. It was inspired on the development of the universe, in which the working process of particle physics helps to describe the complex creation of any entity, including human beings, by the interaction of simple laws. The concept evolution and this scientific background run through the eleven tracks of the album with titles like ‘Seed’, the embryonic basic unit for plants or the unstoppable and unrelenting propagation of life (can be transpose to any zygote, a matter that already interested Max Cooper in ‘Human’ LP track ‘Seething’, illustrated by Andy Lomas’ video as biological model of morphogenesis); ‘Symmetry’, which evokes not only the fundamental DNA’s structure but the ancient principles that rule ‘Order from Chaos’. This has been represented in a crafty and delicate way on accompanying “Cyclic” video, by Glaswegian artist Numbercult, that shows the dynamic traces of creation, leading from unexpected geometries to Greek circle’s plenitude and perfection. Guess what it would be going backwards and you’ll get as close as cycling Second Law of Thermodynamics; “Impermanence”, a Buddhism principle that has to do something with physics: all things are subjected to change, nothing last forever…

This is serious and reflective, made for an introspective party of the mind. If electronic music has been tagged as cerebral, this is a good example of it. Instead of what can be meaning this affirmation, ‘Emergence’ is pretty danceable if you are concerned that your brain dances before your extremities begin to move, even if you are standstill. This is for those who guess how should a synapse sound like and had a serotonin charge from Four Tet’s disrupted beats. This is how Max Cooper bridges the synthetic qualities of the ‘supposing’ into a sonic download to your toes. This is crossing between organic output and mathematically described pulsing functions, as Tom Hodge’s piano and Katherine deBoer’s voice braid with the guessing reality. This is to realize how your headspace is full of iridescent electrical signals and transfers of chemical wellness as you think and dance. Yes, this is IDM made of art, science and technology. A whole experience to be on that XING.

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