A journey around islands I will never visit. A boat trip into the interior. A Pacific themed moon landing, shot by Terry Gilliam, rather than Kubrick. Fratello Mare is a bit of an uneasy trip, to put it mildly. On paper, an album of part-processed lap steel guitar with field recordings; in reality this new Mike Cooper album sounds feverish, wide-eyed, thumb-on-the-edge-of-the-tape stranger than that.
There are submerged rumblings, jangled bird clouds hover over much of each track, the guitar jumps octaves in surprising places, loops churn rather than repeat, and it’s fantastic. It almost sounds like it shouldn’t work; the texture sounds like Giuseppe Ielasi’s Untitled (entr’acte), but the programmed percussion is straight from A Picturesque View, Ignored – David Toop and Scanner’s improvised meeting with I/O3 from 2002 (also on Room40), but it hangs together beautifully.
There is a conversational aspect to Cooper’s guitar playing that never feels showy, and the ease with which it blends in and out of the backdrop of thumb-piano-esque pings and electronic smudges, further underlines Cooper’s understated skills.
An uneasy thrill of a listen, this is an album to get lost with. Highly recommended.