Boomkat Product Review:
At 76 years old, you’d think virtuoso guitarist Mike Cooper would rest on his laurels a little, having continuously mined a seemingly bottomless well of inspiration for almost seven decades, spanning a countless number of recordings feeding his insatiable appetite for experimentation. For his latest album ‘Tropical Gothic’, however, he takes another sharp turn into more abstract terrain with a dark, brooding take on Exotika and Pacific music, sounding something like Jan Jelinek’s much loved Loop-Finding Jazz Records as rendered by Badalamenti and Lynch, before suddenly veering off into a tropical breeze...
Making use of his usual lap steel guitar, sampler and FX, Cooper provides a radical inversion of his style, switching from Pacific to Atlantic ocean to scouting out a looming deep south darkness lurking behind his usually balmy lap steel slide guitar blues. The title itself, “Tropical Gothic” references Cooper’s beloved areas of ‘the South’ with a Gothic, dark, remote interplay.
On each side Cooper studies different approaches to his method of weaving guitar and field recordings into a constant stream of sound, where he delivers chaos and melody - not necessarily in that order. Side A is composed of shorter pieces. Each of them offers a myriad of images and sensations, between the enigmatic and terror (“The Pit”), joy, happiness and freedom (“Running Naked”) or pure contemplation (“Onibaba”).
“Onibaba” runs as a fitting introduction to Side B and its 18 minute magical piece “Lelong & Gods Of Bali”. A mix of ambient exotica, silent film soundtrack and distorted rhythms that dance around Mike’s guitar. It keeps reinventing and transforming itself throughout those eighteen minutes, summing up the dexterity and muscle of Mike Cooper’s music of the last two decades.
Incredible music from a genuine unsung hero; yungers out there resting on yr laurels - take note.