Review: Max Cooper – Tileyard Improvisations Vol. 1


On paper this shouldn’t work. The disciplines of jazz and techno aren’t that similar. One is about space and texture and the other about dense sounds and rigid structure, but Max Cooper’s Tileyard Improvisations: Volume 1 is a flawless piece of work.

It excels where so many others have failed. While it doesn’t sound like it at first, this is contemporary hard bop at its best.

Cooper can’t take all the credit for this though, oh no. Praise should be lavished on trumpeter Quentin Collins and vocalist Kathrin deBoer. Collins’ playing is reminiscent of Lee Morgan, but updated to fit in with the glitchy electronica Cooper has created. Special credit should be given to deBoer that she even managed to fit her unique vocal phrasings into the tracks, instead of just standing back and listening to the fantastic interplay going on around her. Extra special mention should be given to Gearbox Records for putting this out in the first place. Another solid release from London’s premier jazz label.

As with football, this is a record of two halves. Chronology and Duck Mass are more contemporary in their sound and composition. There is a specific flow order to them. Theatre of the Absurd and Animal Expanse are more experimental and abstract (they feel like an extension of Cooper’s debut album Human). The stuttering glitchy beats coupled with deBoer’s haunting vocals sound like an updated, and more extreme, version of Goldfrapp at their most ethereal and experimental. As the title alludes this is Tileyard Improvisations: Volume 1, if this is anything to go by I can’t wait to hear Volume 2!