Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday Spin: Mr. Cooper "Amongst Strangers"

The drawback to downloading music (when you do it to excess that is) is that even when you hear something you don’t really hear it. You listen to it and then file it away instantly to move on to the next thing you got, like there is some kind of expiration date on the file. While I evidently have heard Mr. Cooper’s 2005 disc Amongst Strangers at some point in the past I can’t remember it, and am only vaguely familiar with his name but for a different album I can’t don’t apparently have… oh the joys of four hard drives and not enough storage space.

Perhaps it’s what he was going for, the album is called Amongst Strangers after all and in my mind while it’s not the most amazing piece of instrumental Hip Hop you have heard in your life it is interesting none the less. Where our last guest in the Saturday Spin column was all over the place pulling sounds out left and right and mashing things together that no one would expect to hear mixed and blended Mr. Cooper takes on a more subdued approach.

With twelve tracks, titled one through twelve (simplicity, if not originality, prevails in Coopers mind), we are given a crash course in your basic sample driven beat tape. While it may be a little to down tempo for some emcees any number of “underground” types could fit over these tracks with ease. Filled with ethereal sounds and dusty drums this is like mellowed boom bap. Not quite so much boom but enough to keep your head nodding.

He does tend to repeat the same pattern building up before dropping the beat out only to bring it back in with a new element and then we see more elements come along as the song progresses. But an evolving song is better than a stagnate one any day of the week.

Cooper also seems to have a thing for guitar driven loops. While I’m unsure if they are samples or live playing (another down side to downloading music) I think it’s a mix of both here. If Mr. Cooper ever reads this and is looking for more guitar driven spooky sounds he should definitely check out Gabor Szabo as he is probably the king of eerie Jazz guitar melodies. Hell you should check him out too, especially if you enjoy what Mr. Cooper has done here with his relaxing beats.

Put this on late at night and zone out – you might see some things in the sounds you weren’t prepared for. Or you might just nod along to the steady percussive features and find yourself asleep. Either way I think you may find some enjoyment listening to this disc, as repetitive as it can feel it always has a hint of change lurking in the background.

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