Transcollaboration - “Re: Cooperation”
(Uncle Buzz Records 2003, UBR14)
From Aural Innovations #23 (April 2003)
As the album title and the name of the artist suggests, Transcollaboration is the combined efforts of U.K.’s David Cooper Orton, and James Sidlo from the U.S. Sidlo may be familiar to some readers as a member of psychedelic space unit Pseudo Buddha. The two musicians “met” on a mailing list for those interested in looping, and decided to collaborate on a ‘cross the pond project.
Just by chance, I had been listening to Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music For Airports just before I popped this disc into my player, and the two dovetailed quite nicely together. Like Eno’s classic ambient experiments, Cooper Orton and Sidlo use loops of ambient sound to construct their atmospheric and spacious compositions, but also layer them with guitar, bass, and percussion. The first three pieces, amusingly titled Thing2, 3 and 4 (what happened to Thing1?) especially echo the Eno influence, but after that, the two musicians branch out, exploring their own looping space jazz territory.
Since both musicians play guitar, it’s often the lead instrument in the music, although “lead” is not always an accurate term, since, in the more ambient pieces, no single instrument really plays above the rest in a soloing manner. Instead, the instrumental voices blend together into a sonic melange, but never to the extent where they are drowning each other out. Like in the music of Sidlo’s Pseudo Buddha, each instrument has it’s own clear voice while playing off the others, all in a very subtle but effective manner.
That, of course, changes somewhat later on. In the latter half of the album, Cooper Orton and Sidlo diverge away from a strictly ambient approach, adding breezy rhythms and upbeat percussion, such as on There and Back and There Again, which utilizes a trippy beat to go along with the bass, guitar, and atmospherics and East of Ealing, a bright number that reminded me a little of early Penguin Café Orchestra, with a jazzy edge. One of my favorite pieces was the two-part title track. Re: Cooperation Part 1 is a reflective soundscape with the electric guitar taking the pensive lead, backed by subtle atmospherics. It blends seamlessly into Part 2, where eccentric rhythms, hints of electronics, and sometimes enchanting, sometimes eerie loops weave through the mix.
I liked the fact that, despite it’s melodic touches and soothing nature, Re: Cooperation always retained an adventurous and experimental edge, never allowing itself to become overwhelmed with its more accessible aspirations, always remaining fresh and interesting. It’s a safe bet, that if you like artists like Eno and Penguin Café Orchestra, you’ll find plenty to enjoy on this album.
For more information you can visit the Uncle Buzz web site at: http://www.unclebuzz.com
Or contact David Cooper Orton at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or James Sidlo at: Jhsidlo@aol.com.
Reviewed by Jeff Fitzgerald