A Journal Of The Dark Arts
If you spend any time here at Forestpunk, you will know that we are complete and unabashed Anglophiles, despite never having set foot on Albion. Everything that we know of its rolling hillsides, its cobwebbed mornings, has come from Art.
Our Aquarius, the newest offering from West Yorkshire’s Sophie Cooper, is like having some spectral cob cabin materialize amidst yr living room. The door creaks open, the light spills out – there is an enchanting sound pulling you in. Once inside, Cooper whispers her confessionals in yr ear, while phantom shapes murmur in the corner, and archangels flame with stained glass shadows.
Our Aquarius is built around a backbone of delicate, fingerpicked guitar lines and Cooper’s contralto vocals, which are then swarmed with colorful swells of feedback, disembodied field recordings, and “these weird drums I got in Indonesia.” It’s a homemade, cobbled-together affair, but never ragged. Our Aquarius is the first time she recorded without her trusty four-track, running straight into the infernal digital engine, but she didn’t lose herself in the infinite possibilities of digital recording. Instead, she makes technology serve her creative vision.
Sophie Cooper has cited everyone from Bert Jansch and John Renbourn to Riot Grrl to Arthur Russell as influences, to give you an idea of what an epoch hopping endeavor this is. It makes my heart sing in gladness, as i adore magickal British folk music to the depths of my soul, but so often it’s practitioners, and especially nowadays, are such cheezy throwbacks in poofy sleeves and flowy gowns, it becomes like a Renaissance Faire. I have no problem with anachronistic music, obviously, but it seems to place magick in the remote past, with no room in the harsh clear light of the modern world. Which is sadly pretty true, but we’re trying to change that.
Instead, Sophie Cooper calls the elementals with a coven of cheap guitar pedals and tortured amps. IPhones are used as a talking board, pulling dead voices from the aether.
Our Aquarius seems an intimate and honest document, down to the hand-drawn artwork (which is great), to the limited edition CDR format, but it’s still executed with high production values and an exacting creative vision. She’s been gaining momentum in the past 3 years, with releases on high profile labels (to us, anyway) like Exotic Pylon and Blackest Rainbow. As ambient ethereal sonic alchemists like Grouper, Julianna Barwick, Holly Herndon, etc. are finally being given the attention they deserve, the powder keg is primed to take Cooper beyond the cloistered world of lush gardens, rolling hillsides, and seaside holidays, on to distant shores.
This is a perfect accompaniment to the fireworks of autumn trees, for velvet breezes and fireside chats. Put this on, and watch the sun fade, and transplant some magick into yr life.
Very much highly recommended!