Mike Cooper – ‘Rayon Hula’
January 26, 2010 § Leave a comment
Published: The Age, A2, 48 Hours, January 23, 2010.
Spending time inside Mike Cooper’s Rayon Hula is akin to entering another world. The fact that the British blues guitarist and experimental composer’s lush musical terrains are in part derived from Australian field recordings and artefacts makes this glimmering piece of exotica all the more seductive. The infamous 2005 recording, extended and remastered in this edition, effectively recasts 1950s Western imaginings of Hawaii and the Pacific as a layered, postmodernist melange. Infusing lap-steel guitars, electronic textures and field recordings of Queensland birdsong into a palette of looped samples of late exotica artist Arthur Lyman, Cooper not only pays homage to the genre, but abstracts and expands its haze-riddled atmospheres. The results are intoxicating. Kokoke Nalu’s looped vibes, swirling lap-steel and shuffling rhythm are pure joy, while Paumalu’s sun-drunk ambience is so breezy you could drift away. Cooper’s alluring revision of the Pacific may prove more challenging than its precursors, but it’s all the more rewarding for it.