Max Cooper recently announced new album project ‘Unspoken Words’, set to be released 25th March on MESH. Today he shares new single ‘Exotic Contents’ and its accompanying video.
Cooper has been exploring the difficulties of communicating with words as part of the ‘Unspoken Words’ project. For ‘Exotic Contents’, he teamed up with artist and machine learning specialist Xander Steenbrugge to create a direct representation of this, creating a system for converting words to visual stories.
“The idea was to take the writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein, who tackled this question of the difficulties of using words to explain ourselves and our place in the world, and to have the AI system re-interpret these writings in visual form,”
“It’s interesting for me to see the incomprehensible philosophical language interpreted visually like this, full of symbolism and the boundaries between language, our selves, and the world, broken down into flowing abstraction. I haven’t really taken it all in yet, I feel like there’s more to discover in it than I can appreciate.”
“The video was not “designed” by me in the same way that traditional visual artists would design a music video,” explains Steenbrugge. “I wrote all the code that runs the AI pipeline, and I did a huge amount of exploration as to which settings and sentences (most of which are from Wittgenstein’s seminal Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus) work best, but the final rendered frames come out of the machine.
“So in essence, what you see probably has many different interpretations depending on who’s watching. I really love how the AI model creates very abstract visual scenery which looks familiar, but is also completely impossible at the same time.” – Max Cooper
‘Exotic Contents’ was featured as Mary Anne Hobbs’ Near Future track earlier today on BBC 6 Music. It’s a similar departure from Cooper’s usual interpretation of ideas, with a half-time drum and bass format with more aggression and sharpness of sound design. “It’s a club track, but for me, an exotic form of club track,” he says. “The title ‘Exotic Contents’ came from Wittgenstein’s private language argument, and the difficulty of communicating an entirely internal, subjective object to others when we can never directly show the object to each other. He uses the analogy of a beetle in a box, and I refer to the idea instead as our exotic contents.”
As an audio-visual artist, Cooper often goes to the medium of video to enhance his music and the ideas and stories which inspire and inform his work. ‘Exotic Contents’ is one of 13 short films combined into ‘Unspoken Words’ and the metanarrative (released as a film on Blu-ray to accompany the album on 25th March).
On Wednesday 9th March, there is a chance to experience ‘Unspoken Words’ at Dolby’s state of the art screening room in the heart of Soho. The event will also feature a Q&A with Max Cooper.
‘Pulse at The Centre of Being’ – a more personal than technical track that is linked to previous Max Cooper pieces – also surfaces online today (listen HERE).
About ‘Unspoken Words’:
“I’ve always struggled with words.
“Trying to communicate anything meaningful about my internal state, in any way which seems to do it justice, has always been beyond me.
“But music bypasses language. It is my means of expression, which is why I make a lot of it – I’m compelled to create.” – Max Cooper
‘Unspoken Words’ is Max Cooper’s most revealing work to date, leading the listener through experiences of escapism and connection with personal stories of reflection, acceptance, grappling, idealism and rejection.
The raw expression of Cooper’s own mental state illuminates the universal experience of being human. Unspoken Words offers common ground, a unifying space for anyone who faces internal discordance and feels the need for greater connection and greater expression.
Speaking about the process of writing ‘Unspoken Words’, Max continues: “I find existing inside my mind to be a sometimes beautiful, sometimes intense, sometimes abrasive, messy, baffling, relentless experience, and I’ve tried to put as much of that feeling and form as I could into the album.”
The deftly mixed audio is accompanied by a visual story which unfolds through 13 short films by a range of visual artists commissioned and directed by Max Cooper, and mixed in Dolby Atmos surround sound.
Max Cooper ‘Unspoken Words’ tracklisting:
01. Unspoken Words
02. Inanimate to Animate (feat. Kotomi)
03. A Model Of Reality (feat. Kotomi)
06. Pulse At The Centre Of Being
07. Symphony In Acid
08. Exotic Contents
09. Broken Machines Broken Dreams
10. Solace In Structure
11. Small Window On The Cosmos
13. Stream Of Thought
‘Unspoken Words’ will be released on Mesh on 25th March on Blu-Ray + CD, vinyl and digital. Pre-order HERE.