SCQ Rating: 77%
Martin Eden is almost certainly someone’s birth name, but not the artist responsible for Dedicate Function. As an alias for Matthew Cooper, the ambient-romancing brain behind Eluvium, Martin Eden allows what any good disguise should afford: freedom to indulge in things typically suppressed. In Cooper’s – I’m sorry, Eden’s – case, these indulgences include pummeled beats that loop around introspective but tuneful vapours.
Its percussive momentum sprints a few miles clear of any tempo one might discern from Cooper’s past catalog but Martin Eden’s handiwork doesn’t completely abandon Eluvium territory. Let’s not forget that Cooper already branched away from traditional ambient music with 2010’s Similes, which incorporated his vocals and lyrics, and what bridged that gap – his attention to texture – works wonders again on Dedicate Function. “Verions”, with its tenderly warped synth and an overlapping swarm of horns at its centre, perfectly demonstrates how Cooper can render samples and instruments somehow lived-in. The pulse in “Etc Etc”, for example, creates rhythm out of a complex echo process that resembles the sound of fireworks ricocheting off of city buildings, whereas “Return Life” gathers its beat from some faint but gurgling found-sounds in (and likely from) nature.
An experimental reprieve from Eluvium’s somber musings, Dedicate Function could’ve easily assumed the expectations of a middle-of-the-road techno record. The melodies and rhythms aren’t especially unique, nor do they try to propel their compositions down surprising paths. But not unlike Aphex Twin, Martin Eden’s ambition lies in the microscopic, and his wealth of textural know-how deepens the hypnotic ambience behind these armchair-techno tunes to the point where the whole project’s swallowed whole. It's an engaging descent.