“We are one hundred billion sparks. One hundred billion neurons whose firing creates feelings and ideas. One hundred billion neurons that make us all different yet connected.”
After spending a month in complete isolation at a remote cottage in Wales, Max Cooper presents ‘One Hundred Billion Sparks’, his third studio album, in which he interrogates notions of identity whilst profiling the complex mechanisms that make us all wonderfully unique.
“For me personally, the foundations of nature, in the broadest sense (including us), carry the most beauty and maddening incomprehensibility. The more something is distilled, the more its beauty is crystallised. That is why I am compelled to look for foundations as a general approach.”
His previous album ‘Emergence’ applied this reasoning outwards but for ‘One Hundred Billion Sparks’ he applied it inwards. Conceptualised during a period of intense isolation, the album searches for artistry amongst the mechanisms, emotions and constructs which yield our identity and experience.
“‘One Hundred Billion Sparks’ is my attempt to express what was there after I had removed my everyday life. No phone calls, no emails, no messages, no human contact or conversation for a month, that was the idea.What I found were the fables we live inside, our constructs, the mechanisms which create them, and the experience of parsing them.”
It is a project that can be appreciated both for its complex groundings and beautiful simplicity in equal measure. Pairing crystalline, microscopic sound with sweeping ambience and immersive textures, Max refines his signature sound across a range of tempos. Retaining the duality for which his work is now known for, extensively detailed tracks are bound together by affecting harmonies and driven forward by focused drum patterns in tracks like ‘Hope’. Whilst the sound palette is unmistakably his, the album sees him experimenting with new styles, as highlighted in the industrial swarm of ‘Reflex’, the dubby minimalism of ‘Identity’ or the post pop choppy vocals of ‘Rule 110’.
Every piece of music on the album is a score to the visual story underpinning the project. Each chapter conceived in both musical and visual form from the outset, and carried forward as collaborations with visual artists. These chapters are explained in detail on an accompanying website which will be released alongside the album. On his process, Max explains: “Nature is like art – full of structure, complexity, paradox and many other things which invoke awe, beauty, peace, confusion, frustration and feeling.That is why I involve scientific ideas in my projects; they are a rich source of aesthetic and feeling.”
As one of the leading artists exploring the intersection of music, science, art and technology, Max Cooper has sustained a reputation for providing insightful projects via sound, visuals and immersive installations. ‘One Hundred Billion Sparks’ advances that reputation, with an artistic exploration of ideas communicating the marvel of our existence.
Max Cooper will be going on tour to showcase his new album with stops at Melkweg in Amsterdam, Koko in London, Gaîté Lyrique in Paris, AB in Brussels, Funkhaus in Berlin and more.
Stream/buy Hope and pre-order One Hundred Billion Sparks here.
date: 20th September 2018
04. Rule 110
‘…as with many of my projects, the natural world and its structures supply all the art and inspiration needed’
Max Cooper returns with another release exploring the intersection of science, music and art. The ‘World Passing By’ EP features 4 new tracks accompanied by a visual representation of his conceptually driven work.
For this project, Max was influenced by varying interpretations of time. On the inspiration behind the EP he says:
‘I wondered if our experience of time could be explained…where time is just a physical dimension into which things grow, with us experiencing now as the cusp of the inflation’
The visual and musical ideas both stemmed from train journeys, and were then run through studio hardware to form each track, and a collaboration with Kevin McGloughlin to create a video representation of his work that will feature in Max’s live show.
The opening track ‘Veil Of Time’ uses ambient chord progressions as a commentary on the dampening inescapability of time, whilst ‘Resynthesis’ opts for a more rhythmic exploration using classic retro synthesis sound design. ‘Stacked Moments’ addresses the notion of the present as the surface of a growing structure, with a textural chord sound providing the basis for new elements to wander. Finally, ‘Corporeal’ is a collaboration with Rob Clouth heard previously on Max’s Essential Mix in which a synth is run through a radio transmitter, creating distortion and flecks to alter the main chord sequence.
Find out more about Max’s current tour here.
24 November 2017 / Mesh
01. Veil Of Time
03. Stacked Moments
EMERGENCE is an epic, operatic, ambitious amalgamation between audio-visual show, scientific research project, art installation and IDM record, the debut release on Max Cooper’s Mesh label and his second full-length release.
The record was conceived as a soundtrack to a new series of 11 pieces of video art, each exploring a different facet of the concept of ‘emergence’. The full A/V live show will premiere on the road with the Autumn dates below, including Mutek in Japan. Together the work is a marriage between the cosmic awe of a Carl Sagan film and the musical wonderment of Sigur Ros, made for meditating on the mystery of our emotional connection to fundamental natural form.
‘Waves’ is the first single to be lifted from Max Cooper’s second album ‘Emergence’.
Cooper collaborated with film composer Tom Hodge and vocalist Kathrin deBoer to put together a rich piece of music that incorporates post-rock, Warp-y brain-dance, hi-def digital techno and shimmering neo-classical. Few musicians are as qualified as Max to tackle as profound an idea as ‘emergence’ through electronic music. EMERGENCE is the story of the development of the universe, the way in which, very complex things like human beings where created from the immaterial by the action of simple laws.
Max received a Ph.D in computational biology in 2008 with research on the evolution of gene regulatory networks and was a geneticist at UCL before he switched to music. To this end he collaborated with artists Andy Lomas, Nick Cobby and Henning M Lederer plus mathematician Dugan Hammock from the University of Massachusetts. In each chapter of the AV, the focus is on the beauty of the natural laws and processes in operation, with a mixture of real data visualisation and films. It interprets the deep structures and principles that give rise to the familiar physical universe, such as symmetries, the distribution of the primes, waves, spatial dimensionality, and the action of the physical forces on matter. Later films tackle the emergence of biological forms, thought and eventually a darker turn into the structures and systems of human civilisation.
Max has synthesised his skill as a producer and his deep interests in science to create a Hadron Collider-grade ambient techno world, in the lineage of The Future Sounds of London’s ‘Lifeforms’ for 2016. It’s also one of the most beautiful records you’ll hear all year.
1. Symmetry (with Tom Hodge)
2. Seed (feat. Kathrin deBoer)
4. Distant Light
5. Myth (with Tom Hodge)
6. Order From Chaos
8. Impermanence (feat. Kathrin deBoer)
9. Trust (with Tom Hodge feat. Kathrin DeBoer)