14 Songs, 1 Hour 17 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Max Cooper’s productions have always been evocative of the sublime; early on, even his most floor-focused EPs swung for the fences, wrapping minimal techno’s intricate drum programming in big, bold synths of a resolutely maximalist character. Over the years, the UK electronic musician, who holds a PhD in computational biology, has scaled up both his sound and his vision, tackling the laws of physics on Emergence and the nature of human identity on One Hundred Billion Sparks. Yearning for the Infinite shoots for the stratosphere and beyond: Commissioned by London’s Barbican, it represents an investigation into humanity’s long-standing fascination with boundlessness itself.

Giving shape to the unimaginable is no easy task, but Cooper’s talents serve him well: He traces a broad arc, building from gaseous ambient toward throbbing rhythms of increasing complexity—a timeline, perhaps, from the origins of the universe to the birth of artificial life. In “Scalar,” Alison Moyet’s voice is diced and layered over a lithe drum ’n’ bass rhythm, all of it teetering on the edge of chaos; the percolating synths of “Transcendental Tree Map” sound like sentient data points testing their limbs for the first time. In “A Fleeting Life,” the Scottish folk singer and author James Yorkston recites a brief poem that links the mysteries of the world to the hidden reaches of the human experience. “A droplet falls to perfection,” he intones, as Cooper’s synths glow like a distant galaxy. “And if we are lucky, we have grace.” For all its ambition, Yearning for the Infinite remains remarkably restrained and supremely relatable.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Max Cooper’s productions have always been evocative of the sublime; early on, even his most floor-focused EPs swung for the fences, wrapping minimal techno’s intricate drum programming in big, bold synths of a resolutely maximalist character. Over the years, the UK electronic musician, who holds a PhD in computational biology, has scaled up both his sound and his vision, tackling the laws of physics on Emergence and the nature of human identity on One Hundred Billion Sparks. Yearning for the Infinite shoots for the stratosphere and beyond: Commissioned by London’s Barbican, it represents an investigation into humanity’s long-standing fascination with boundlessness itself.

Giving shape to the unimaginable is no easy task, but Cooper’s talents serve him well: He traces a broad arc, building from gaseous ambient toward throbbing rhythms of increasing complexity—a timeline, perhaps, from the origins of the universe to the birth of artificial life. In “Scalar,” Alison Moyet’s voice is diced and layered over a lithe drum ’n’ bass rhythm, all of it teetering on the edge of chaos; the percolating synths of “Transcendental Tree Map” sound like sentient data points testing their limbs for the first time. In “A Fleeting Life,” the Scottish folk singer and author James Yorkston recites a brief poem that links the mysteries of the world to the hidden reaches of the human experience. “A droplet falls to perfection,” he intones, as Cooper’s synths glow like a distant galaxy. “And if we are lucky, we have grace.” For all its ambition, Yearning for the Infinite remains remarkably restrained and supremely relatable.

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