Review: Sophie Cooper – Our Aquarius

Sophie Cooper - Our AquariusThe sounds are conjured from the instruments, not played on them. The slow bulging chords of “Blessed Angel And The Roses” (a warm, electronic waft) are teased into life as though beckoned out by an index finger, while Cooper’s voice wraps around the notes like a snake coiling upon a branch, distorting as it curls back in phasing, throbbing Mobius loops. All throughout the record, she interacts with melody like a child in a playground – scurrying around the perimeter of each sonic shape and running her fingertips upon it, searching for a ridge or dent with which to clamber up. Instruments are smushed into blurry new shapes via reverb and indulgent layering, or placed amidst dialogues that force their primary mode of language to change – the fingerpluck acoustic cascade of “Wlstanetone” loses all sense of elegance as it tries to wriggle away from a thick, distorted surge of bowed strings, crushing some its more melodious limbs in the process.

I hear Cooper slipping off the edge, detaching from the original premise and then losing it via the distraction of side roads and epiphanic tangents. Delicate shapes spiral out of control like music box ballerinas set spinning too fast, and despite the aquamarine gleam that covers the folken flutter of “Klias Wetlands” in its opening few minutes, an inky distortion still manages to find a gap in the seams through which to spill, turning the music into a beautifully bad origami of wrong folds and symmetry offset. I am thoroughly enlivened by the freedom of her music. Every equilibrium disturbance is an invitation; an opportunity to reconsider and repurpose, free to be indulged until the song bloats to the point of bursting. Excesses of warmth and echo are to be trusted as friends – they are beauty enhancers, coaxing melodies out of restraint until they cover themselves in wild frocks of found sound, accordion ribbons and sung notes that rise and fall like the very breaths that bore them. I shut my eyes and slacken myself, permitting Our Aquarius to lead me forth without hesitation or question.