Two years after Shuffle Drones, American Portland-based musician and composer Eluvium (Matthew Cooper) released a new album. Pianoworks is out now via Temporary Residence Ltd. It is the first solo piano album since his sophomore full-length, An Accidental Memory In The Case Of Death (2004). We had a nice talk with him about the inspiration of the new album, the artwork and his relationship with instrument. Check it below after the full streaming of the album.

Let’s start with the new album “Pianoworks”.  It is the first solo piano album since the sophomore album, An Accidental Memory In The Case Of Death (2004). How was the idea of the album born and what was the path of the creative process?

I’d say it was less born, and more just a continual build up that would become an inevitability. People had been asking me to make more solo piano music for years, and obviously the piano is very important to me and I was always working on pieces here and there while working on other projects — Eventually there was enough material for an album, but then came time to record and re-record until everthing was the way that I wanted it to sound… which ended up being something that I wanted to be simple enough for children to learn, but evocative enough to stand alone as well.  It was many many years in the making, but I also was working on other things that interest me outside of this type of music.

Artwork of the album is stunning. How did you and Jeannie choose it?

Jeannie created it on her own, from her own thoughts and world. I actually originally had a bit of turmoil going on in my mind as to what I wanted the art to be and was trying many different mock ups and ideas, but nothing was ever right. She knew right away that it was the right image for it, and just kept it tucked away patiently. I started playing with mock ups on a rich black background using it and it’s color scheme and made sense of it in my mind, and then fell in love with it.  She is a master of painting. I’m rather spoiled to be able to work with her and be inspired by her works and mind.

The composition of soundtrack for movies and short films is something which meets your interest? What is your relationship with visual arts in connection to your music?

I’ve more recently made the realization that it is something I’m interested in. I’ve always devoured and adored film, and film-making. For some reason it took me a while to consider that I could play a part in the process. But I’ve had some opportunities over the past few years and immediately loved it. It’s not for everyone, I guess. But to me it excersizes parts of my abilities that I wouldn’t necessarily get to excersize otherwise. It’s quite amazing, the power of these mediums together. I look forward to the chance to make more steps in this direction.

I’m very interested to the connection between the places we live over the years, the territorial geography of our roots and the art. How do you feel these themes connected to your music, your way to think of music? What are some of your favorite places?

I think geography has the ability to shape musical composition, in much the same way that musical composition has the ability to shape our connection to a geography. Our interactions and emotional make-up are all interdependent of each other, and sound and place are just as equally interesting as taste and memory. Moments are created, and in doing so, create a mutation or change or adaptation in us.

To list my favorite places seems like a never ending question to answer. The earth is a vast and magnificent and intriguing and horrible and confounding and breathtaking and bewildering and awe-inspiring world. Let alone the dimensions of the universe and what lies beyond it. My list would be from another galaxy, to the pizza place down the road.

Considering your relationship with the instrument and your music, what is your way to give new shape to the sound and what is your idea of experimentation in art?

Currently i’ve been thinking a lot about meaning in art, and its use. It often seems as though art is framed within the confines of meaning -that it needs a story in order for people to write about it(and thus explain it, or frame it, to others), and the limitations that this process may create.

Cage inspired this way of thinking, of course. Though his processes generally backed it up graphically, whether using the I-ching, or “controlled chaos”, to broaden the definition of our understanding of music. I think this thinking also contains the choice for a single note, or 2 chords strung together, or country music’s defining “three chords and the truth”, or the latest pop song.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this line of thinking. I’m just thinking about it. It could be considered a form of inspiration which is born from experimentation in thought patterns. The outcome is seemingly meaningless, relative to the reasoning behind the outcome.

Ritual question. What are the best releases you recently appreciated?

The His Name is Alive – Early Recordings, John Luther Adams – Become Desert, M. Sage – Catch a Blessing</em>. I haven’t really had a ton of time to listen recently – been quite busy with a lot of projects mostly listen to oldies, girl groups, early chanteuses, old jazz records recently .