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birch cooper - i was a teacher (12inch vinyl lp)


ARTIST // birch cooper
LABEL // digitalis (us)
CAT // digi024lp


Another Digitalis drop from the Slaves camp, hot on the heels of the superb Spirits of the Sun LP (just last week!). "I Was a Teacher" sees Birch Cooper step out on his own and proves to be a much different animal than the aforementioned woozy, drone-laden headtrip. If the Slaves sound on their Digitalis debut can be thought of as principally devotional, Cooper's solo work here is unhinged, though certainly not unfocused. The title cut bursts into being with surging, coiling shards of pure tone. Some of these sounds remind me of Bee Mask's best work, but Cooper manages to make the fractured tones culled from his synths distinct and very definitely his own. The press release asserts that there's "nothing beautiful" about "I Was a Teacher," and while, on the whole, Cooper does deal in scalding, disorienting sonics, there are moments of blissful tranquility, such as the denouement of "Meshing Ladder." A great, bewildering record. Recommended. - Alex Cobb, Experimedia
Birch Cooper is an artist with his hands in multitudes of projects and different mediums. He moonlights with Barbara Kinzle in The Slaves and blasts havoc to all your senses in his multimedia duo with Brenna Murphy, MSHR. He's also spent time as a member of the enigmatic Oregon Painting Society and builds a lot of his own electronics. But that's not enough. His solo work has added a new point of light as it constructs new ground from nothingness. "I Was a Teacher," his first solo LP, following up last year's absolutely stellar tape, Weird Lesson, is the sound of machines warning each other that the end is near.

Fried circuits mutate and reform into something new and organic that sound like the guts of the Earth if it was all gears and escapement mechanisms. This music is harsh and frenetic. Electronic pendulums achieve locked-state oscillations as a form of aural catharsis. Frequencies shift like chameleons, working in forms of cryptic polymath to achieve the perfect destroyer. These tones screech out bleakness, worming their way through your ear canals until they can alter your synapses permanently.

It's incredible how Cooper is operating within a framework and language that is entirely his own. Cold electronics are twisted like scrap metal into impossible angles and bizarre shapes. It feels like you're trapped inside some kind of dystopian technological nightmare, searching every neural pathway for a way to escape. High-frequency blasts coalesce into cybernetic mountains, accented with neon trails and acid-laced electrons. This is complex music that is built to malfunction in unexpected ways. It is anti-whimsical. Sure, there's nothing beautiful about "I Was a Teacher," but it stays with you all the same.

Incredible artwork by Birch Cooper.

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