ALBUM OF THOUGHT! Claude Cooper: Myriad Sounds – album review
Myriad Sounds, the debut album by Claude Cooper from Bristol, is a remarkable mix of psych-funk and jazz. It’s vibrant and vital, and just what we need to get the year started. Gordon Rutherford reviews Louder Than War.
Listen to the following music. You can lose yourself in the sounds and transform into the music by listening to them completely.
So begins Claude Cooper’s debut album, Myriad Sounds. It’s a bold statement that exudes confidence and boldness. He knows a lot. Myriad Sounds is a labyrinth which entices and holds you captive for thirty-three minutes.
Many great thinkers throughout history have described cities as living organisms. Plato and Da Vinci used analogies to describe cities as human bodies. Le Corbusier compared Paris’ sickness to an elderly aunt. Although it’s been some time since I last walked Bristol streets, there is still something vibrant about it that fits the description of a living organism.
Claude Cooper, a Bristol native, released his debut album Myriad Sounds. It is a celebration of the city’s musical genius. The city itself is a wonderful mix of flavours and influences. This wild fusion of jazz, psych-funk and seventies soundtrack soul is just as impressive. This album is released by Friendly Recordings, which keeps the Bristolian vibe. Friendly Recordings is making a new foray, which is a brand new offshoot of the local Friendly Records shop.
Cooper is a fascinating character. Interviews were not possible due to the new album. He is a mystery, and very little is known about him. We learn from Myriad Sounds that he is highly connected and a great collaborator. To create this sonic paradise, one would need to be a well-connected person. Cooper is not well-known, but his supporting cast, which includes several of Bristol’s musical royalty, are. Si John of Reprazent (on upright) shares bass duties with Billy Fuller, from Beak, on electric. Jeff Hollie (who has previously recorded with Frank Zappa) is on trumpet, and Pete Judge (Get The Blessing), on the saxophone. Anthony (Errol Flynn) is quick on the drums. Noted producer Tom Wilding provides keys, while Sean Snook plays guitar (who has worked with Beth Gibbons and Geoff Barrow). The ensemble also includes Nick Pascalides, a cellist and Nathan Flutebox Lee, a pioneering flautist.
Although it’s a great line-up, Si John’s upright bass is what really stands out to me. This is especially true for Cooper’s debut single Tangerine Dreams. This track has been a hit since its release 14 months ago. The seven-inch vinyl was sold out in just days. Many music lovers believed that it was a one-off release, and feared Cooper would disappear into the background. It’s clear that those who rushed to get the first pressing of Tangerine Dreams will be thrilled at the album’s release. We may be late, but we can still enjoy the heady cocktail as pioneers did back in November ’20.
John’s upright bass is the one that announces the track. It is utterly original, a fluid, fluid sound that penetrates the skin and enters your bloodstream. The Flynn drums kick in within seconds and we’re in the grip of a funk-fueled monster. It was no surprise that it sold out quickly. The gloriously wild psych-funk of Stan’s Plan, Cooper’s second single has been getting a lot of radio airplay recently. It is so rhythmic that it will make it difficult to stay still while it grooves its way through your speakers.
The brilliance doesn’t stop at those singles. Myriad Sounds has many highlights. Flynn’s hypnotic beats dominate Hardenhuish’s seductive and sensual performance, while Bloom Fields exudes a rich, pulsating 70s vibe. This soulful gem is led by the melody of Lee’s flute. St Nick’s House leads us on a new path. The rise and fall melody takes us all around the shop like Escher’s staircase. Combining that melody with Snook’s guitar sound gives off a creepy sixties Twilight Zone vibe.
Magic Circle’s frenzied psychfunk workout is another classic. Fuller’s dirty and scuzzy electric bass drives the tune unabated, while Lee’s flute dances in a background blurred. It’s a striking contrast. Holy Water starts by playing John’s upright bass, a nod to his famous Brown Paper Bag work. The track evolves into something that sounds like a horror film soundtrack. Pascalides is able to summon up the vintage horror vibe better than a cello. It’s therefore not surprising that he really shines on this track.
The b-side to Tangerine Dreams is another track that will be well-known by the faithful. Two Mile Hill is a wild and frantic piece. Judge’s trumpet seamlessly switches between Morricone-esque drama and frenetic improvisation. Fuller’s bass walks all over the track to accompany this. Flynn’s incessant drumming is the foundation of it all. It has a seventies-style cop show feel, and the next track Mongoose is no exception. Fuller’s bass drives the track this time with Hollie’s sax blazing over it. This tune is very similar to Glenn Fallows’ album, The Globeflower Masters Vol. 1. It also reminds me of Serge Gainsbourg. The cover art even captures that seventies vibe.
Album closer, Forbidden Fruits again showcases Hollie’s soprano and sax skills. This is also a perfect example of what makes this album so special. It moves through minimalism, New Orleans jazz and Afrobeat in less than three minutes.
Let me focus on the timing. As I said, Myriad Sounds runs approximately thirty-three mins. Or, it could be because this is a short duration for an album, especially one with twelve tracks. Twelve tracks. They say, “Do the math”. That is what I love about Myriad Sounds. It is amazing to think that Claude Cooper and his team of collaborators managed to squeeze so much into such a small package. In the sense that it’s much larger inside, it almost resembles Tardis. There is nothing unnecessary. Each track can be snuckered and taken in bite-sized pieces. The psych-funk jazz-jazz bursts are like little doses of energy that leave you wanting more.
Tangerine dreams was widely believed to have been a one-off release at the time. I am certain that these fears will return with the release Myriad Sounds. We will never again hear or see Mr. Cooper. We can only hope so, as albums like this don’t happen every day.