Aug 18

Mike Cooper in Beirut

Mike Cooper first visit to Beirut was in 2005, to play in the IRTIJAL festival. He came and played in Lebanon many times since, in various contexts. In 2010 we asked Mike if he would like to record his concerts in Beirut for a release on our newly born label. He said no, but proposed instead to record a proper album in studio. Two sessions later, RADIO PARADISE joined our catalog as the third release.


Firstly let me state that it is a great honor for me to have ‘RADIO PARADISE’ released on the Johnny Kafta label.

From Mr. Cooper shirts collection

This c.d. continues to follow a musical road I set out on when I released ‘RELUCTANT SWIMMER/VIRTUAL SURFER’ on my Hipshot c.d.r label (2005 – Hipshot 014). It was recorded live at the Controindicazioni Festival in Rome in October 2003. During the concert I drew together for the first time my work with live improvisation, songs, field recordings, real time sampling, digital treatment and looping, using acoustic and electric lap steel guitars. The real breakthrough though was that I sang songs independently of their original chord structure and harmony across a backing of improvised loops and drones all created by live sampling of my own playing in real time.

Two reviews of that work stated..

“Cooper, now in his sixties, is making the most adventurous music of his life. (This) album is incredibly rich and evocative, and as a live performance, it’s utterly flawless. Cooper takes live guitar processing and sampling as his raw material, using it to build something complex and substantive, full of ideas and surprises, not just abandoning it half-formed. Everyone who thought Fennesz’ last record was the best of 2004 would do well to listen to Mike Cooper’s Reluctant Swimmer/Virtual Surfer, to hear similar musical strategies brought to their full potential by a veteran musician in his artistic prime.” ( Jonathan Dean-Brainwashed)


“Much as Sylvian, Bailey and Fennesz should be lauded for their work on the former’s Blemish album, Cooper’s audacious, unfettered performance marks an equally inspiring advance in marrying experimental sonics with song.” ( Keith Moline – the Wire.)

Since then I have continued to develop this manner of performing plus I have created a body of texts or lyrics which I call ‘Spirit Songs’. These ‘songs’ are words, phrases, short extracts, randomly ‘borrowed’ mostly from Thomas Pynchon’s various novels and re-located in the ‘cut-up’ style or manner of the two poet/writer/artists Brion Gysin and William Burroughs and the British artist Tom Phillips work the ‘Humument’ –

I chose to call them collectively ‘Spirit Songs’ making reference to the Temiar – an indigenous people of Malaysia – who claim that their ‘ healing’ music and song comes to them in dreams or trance state. However I claim no healing powers as such for my ‘Spirit Songs’.

Some of the original songs on ‘Radio Paradise’ first appeared on my ‘Blue Guitar’ c.d. ( Hipshot ). There are also ‘cover’ versions of songs not written by me that have been in my repertoire for many years, albeit performed previously in a more ‘traditional’ manner but performed here in the same manner as my original ‘comprovisations’

As well as performing improvised and avant-electro-acoustic music I have enjoyed (and still do) a parallel career playing and singing acoustic folk & blues in totally different contexts. It is my hope that this c.d. will encourage a more unique open / free and less conservative approach to the composition and performance, not just of original ‘songs’ but also traditional folk/blues and pop songs.

The first of these ‘Spirit Songs’ appeared on my Hipshot c.d. (Hip-016) of the same name which I recorded in a week at a friends apartment in London, with no heating or water in mid-winter in 2006.  Jonathan Dean at Brainwashed wrote in a review of the c.d.

“I think that Mike Cooper can genuinely call this style his own; I’ve never heard anything remotely like it, and it works beautifully, highlighting both song and singer, as well as the happy accidents resulting from the intersection of structure and chaos.” – which is hopefully what is also happening on ‘RADIO PARADISE’.

Mike Cooper – Rome 2011.

(All the shirts are from Mr. Cooper private collection.)



Posted by mazen. Filed under New Release, Uncategorized.

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