One of the most anticipated albums of 2014 so far is due to be released on Amsterdam’s Field Records next week. The video to his great song “Numb” caught our eye last year, and now, close to one year later, the debut album of the British producer Max Cooper finally drops. “Human” can be streamed via Pitchfork Advance beforehand.
Cooper tried “to use a concept of the human condition, and to make each track try and communicate something that we all have in common”, as he wrote on his Facebook page. The concept could be seen as a deliberate challenge, as Cooper deals with the most mechanistic of beat structures. His previous club tracks, as well as those featured on the record, sound delicately precise and with a force and effortless drive of a well greased machine. But the effect of Cooper’s technological prowess is only hightened by the human elements, so to speak – like the warm textures and female guest singers he occasionally uses – and they barely coat the wheels and wires. It would be a shame if they did indeed, because in the end, the mechanics are the real wonder here.
The record starts off slow with the ambiance strings and guitar picking and piano on “Woven Ancestry” and “Adrift”. But in the middle section, the album is steering into more punchy material – with a slighty defused album version of “Numb” and the aptly titled “Impact”, before abruptly falling into the clicks and clatter of the pre-released “Empyrean”. The juxtaposition of the slow swelling and evolving static with a string section on “Potency” finally is one of the most experimental moments on “Human”, and the point of reference of the whole release: Past and future, man and machine, substance and form, all harmoniously merged into each other.