Coppice - Matches, duo in black jumpers performing with electronics


Chicago duo Noé Cueller and Joseph Kramer, otherwise known as Coppice, are back with their second release of 2015. Like February’s “Cores/Eruct”, “Matches” is released on their own label Category of Manifestation, and combines the bellows instruments, tape processes, and electronic manipulations that the pair are known for. The seven tracks were constructed from various studio and live recordings made over the last six years, cutting, splicing, deconstructing, and recombining material from a vast audio archive.

In many ways, this collection of tracks veers between opposing poles. ‘Bromine’ buzzes like a furious analogue insect, zigzagging round the room on a wave of rough harmonics. In ‘Bramble’, a clatter of sounds are thrown down the stairs one after the other amid heavy blaring tones; this is followed by a thudding bass beat, growling drone, and sudden, sharp exhales of breath. The opening rattle of ‘Labile Form’, on the other hand, sounds like water quietly emptying down a gutter, and even the ensuing downpour seems muted, shaking but not shattering the window frames as I sit safely inside, listening. The rumbles, wobbles, and blurts of fuzz heard in ‘Discharge Form’ punctuate a deep digital silence.

In the final track ‘Caper’, quick pulses wrap themselves in gentle hum to produce a sort of stasis, maybe similar to the sort reached when long-distance runner or cyclist meets her stride. This is the piece that seems to best capture the album’s extremes and hold them together, lightly but coherently. To my ears “Matches” contains some of Cueller and Kramer’s heaviest, most aggressive moments, and also some of their quietest and most reflective. Though the more mystical, tonal aspects of albums such as 2013’s “Big Wad Excisions” are largely absent, a wide range of approaches, from the flat and abstract to the boisterous and dramatic, are employed with skill. I could have stayed with some of the sounds for longer, particularly the quieter ones, and in this sense the album only hints at possibilities rather than exploring them fully; but when it comes to range and breadth, “Matches” is as clear and concise a statement as anything Coppice have produced thus far.

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