I recently had the chance to see Co La perform as the opening act for Daniel Lopatin and Tim Hecker. During the producer’s set, visuals were projected onto a screen at the back of the stage. The images, some of which appeared to be low-quality YouTube rips, mainly depicted ordinary, unremarkable scenes, such as a barista preparing coffee or someone playing with puppies. These documentarian glimpses into everyday existence — pieces of archival detritus that enthusiastically record the details of the everyday — can perhaps provide a useful entry point into the music of Moody Coup, Co La’s latest full-length.
Throughout the album, Co La, a.k.a. Matthew Papich, consistently deploys samples of mundane, inconspicuous noises — water dripping, sips from a drink, birds chirping, scissors cutting, human breathing — foregrounding these unmistakable signifiers of the banal by isolating them and placing them prominently in the mix. Even the more conventionally “musical” sounds — from the album’s consistently stunning array of percussive timbres to the vibrant, often unexpected bursts of synthesizer — are abstracted and disconnected from their expected contexts. Just as some of the images that were displayed during Co La’s performance offered intensely focused glimpses into specific moments of daily life, the samples on Moody Coup evoke the minor, momentary sounds and noises that comprise the majority of human auditory experience on a day-to-day basis.
This disembodiment of the aural quotidian lends Moody Coup a remarkable sense of conceptual coherence and stylistic consistency. And yet, despite Co La’s ardent commitment to this specific and somewhat esoteric musical project, there are moments on the album that transcend any sort of detached conceptualization and instead achieve an immediately satisfying viscerality. For instance, the warm, sonorous piano on album opener “Sukiyaki (To Die For)” playfully teases out and then deconstructs a gorgeous little tune (which, at least to this listener, recalls the motival sensibilities of Steve Reich); this keyboard part mingles alongside rumbling, jazzy percussion; bright flashes of synthesizer; and a variety of indecipherable samples and effects, creating an intoxicating, otherworldly aesthetic — an apt introduction to the album’s singular sonic world.
Although Moody Coup certainly does exist in its own autonomous sphere, traces remain of Co La’s earlier efforts; “Suspicious (Sandman Fix),” a relaxed, dub-inflected jam, vaguely recalls the tropical vibes of Daydream Repeater, Papich’s previous full-length release. In contrast to the relaxed escapism of that album, however, “Suspicious” contains jarring, ear-splitting wails of what sounds like a possessed saxophone, an instrumental choice that imbues the song with an experimental sort of jazziness. This jazz influence crops up again on album closer “Make It Slay (Barbershop Solo),” where a lone, mournful trumpet carries an elegiac melody, accompanied only by deep rumblings of bass, sporadic outbursts of percussion, and the breaths of a human being. The latter detail lends the song a corporeal quality and emotive dimension perhaps most comparable to Daniel Lopatin (co-founder of Software, the label releasing Moody Coup)’s Replica.
And then there’s “Deaf Christian.” On this song, Co La samples and pitch-shifts the refrain from Neil Sedaka’s 1962 doo-wop track “Next Door to an Angel,” coupling it with a characteristically disjunct background vocal supplied by ex-Dirty Projector Angel Deradoorian. The way these voices intertwine with the song’s kaleidoscopic percussion is mesmerizing, both technically astounding and immediately accessible. The revelatory joy of the song’s main refrain — “I’m living right next door to an angel and I just found out today/ I’m living right next door to an angel and she only lives a house away” — is thus perfectly mirrored by the unconventional euphoria of the music itself.
Because of this quality, I would suggest that, in a certain way, “Deaf Christian” is a microcosm of the album as a whole. With Moody Coup, Co La has skillfully assembled an abstract, engaging work of music from some of the most mundane sonic details of everyday experience. As such, this is an album that celebrates the unnoticed joys of human life itself. Co La is no longer trying to construct a paradisal sonic escape for the listener; rather, he is very much reveling in the simple wonders of the here and now.