1. Residual deposits of soil, dust and rock particles produced by the action of the wind.
2. One stage name of Matthew Cooper, experimental electronic musician.
Nightmare Ending is Cooper’s most recent album, a meandering collection of thickly atmospheric pieces that are as naturalistic as the artist’s pseudonym implies. Here, Eluvium composes the score of his own unknowable film. This soothing, meditative record combines several genres into one constantly evolving whole, gently brushing elements of shoe-gaze, classical romanticism and ambient music over a quiet landscape.
At over 80 minutes, this double album takes its time, lingering on every melody long enough to paint a complete picture within each individual track. Several tracks are reminiscent of Richard D. James in his prime, conjuring up the colors of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works as well as the peaceful piano compositions of drukQs. Other moments hearken to Angelo Badalamenti and his dreamy film scores. Eluvium’s work here is hugely atmospheric, almost creating a world of its own.
Making its way largely without percussion or vocal accompaniment, save for a few interpolated cries and a hushed recital from Yo La Tengo’s Ira Kaplan on its final track, Nightmare Ending gives off a feeling of peaceful isolation frozen in time. The first quarter of the album seems to be made up of subtle variations on a flowing melodic ambiance, until it abruptly breaks into “Caroling,” a delightfully simple piano tune that brings the listener indoors for a break from windy landscapes.
The piano is a recurring motif in Eluvium’s latest work, present in almost every track and occasionally allowed to stand on its own. As naturalistic, synthesized melody paints a backdrop of ebbing and flowing noise, the piano is a constant reminder that this is not accidental music. Nightmare Ending, from start to finish, is carefully crafted by human hands. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that simple fact.
Eluvium finishes on “Happiness,” a song that can only be described as beautiful. All throughout Nightmare Ending, the artist combines tradition and innovation wonderfully. The result is an ambient melodic work heavy with smart piano composition, something not often seen today. It’s rare and unexpected, but really it’s just wonderful.