Coppice | Head Turning Songs
A year ago to the month I reviewed Coppice‘s Green Flame which was quite and exciting record. Noé Cuéllar & Joseph Kramer are back with their latest, Head Turning Songs, and I hope for that exact result. We open with a minimal setting on Dense Day Cooling, a jangly string rhythm paired with drained voice treatments. As the voice slowly starts to emerge there’s essence au Dave Gahan (Depeche Mode), the words are ingrained so deeply within fragmentary effects that you can only recognize every third word, or fewer. It feels as though it stops and starts, and over again – there’s no typical song structure here, it’s free, yet quite restrained, almost if it’s running out of power.
The opener was interesting enough, but on Coverage the ear captures every last spoken word, “images on the air…deprived of private identities, merged at the speed of light….” Here the atmosphere has a peculiar sense of ‘beware’ set between the briefly spoken and sung phrases are these almost Philip Glass-esque bars that fade from the surface, blown air, and a whole lot of circumstance (albeit nonconcrete). My head is not yet turning but my listening is quite deep, open, interested. The Wall pairs guitar feedback and other eletro-acoustic phenomena for a bare bones sketch that comes off like the theme from Doctor Who reduced to a barren hum. The voice is somewhere in the range between David Sylvian and Roger Waters, though takes its own path, repeating lines about being without this and that.
The lengthiest track here, Flywheel, runs for ten minutes, and seems to be about time and matter – all nuanced by way of a metronomic lil’ beat. The simple tones, the breathy, depressed-into-the-mix vocal – all aid/abet a poker-faced mood that almost sounds as if its reading from an art critic’s dissertation. The click-effects almost mimic the voice, in the rhythmic timbre of a beat poet. Finally on Fake Memories Object the duo blends a muted timpani with a weathered, watery mix of rubbery keys and the unexpected. If you can imagine a work by Delibes as appropriated through a drunken stupor in the rain, that may only scratch the surface. This one is an ever-evolving cryptograph that dazzles.