The Belfast-born, London-based Max Cooper left behind a career as a genetic physicist to begin exploring the mind through the medium of minimal dance music. Influenced by modern classical composers like Steve Reich, Arvo Pärt and Michael Nyman, his output in the past decade includes a series of 12″ releases inspired by scientific and mathematical concepts. This debut album attempts something more ambitious still: to reflect what it means to be human, no less.
The track titles — “Awakening,” “Numb” — suggest what he’s trying to do with each. Opener “Woven Ancestry” was inspired by the way generations of genes come together to create an individual, and mixes glitchy, Four Tet-style samples with arpeggiated melodies. Cooper captures states of mind, too. The gorgeous, Massive Attack-flavored “Adrift” evokes the space between sleep and wakefulness with subdued piano and string textures set against the sensual voice of vocalist Kathrin deBoer. The warm clouds and twinkling pianos of “Empyrean” feel as blissful as a Balearic sunrise.
The penultimate track “Potency” is as powerful as the name implies, riding a barrage of teeth-clenching analogue noise that has an almost physical impact. Human is an album that takes a scientific approach to the idea of connecting with the listener, mapping the human mind through intricate recordings that are both beautiful and meditative. If a lot of dance music is about ego, this feels like id music.