Max Cooper at Gorilla

Johnny James, Managing Editor
Alex Kozobolis

Max Cooper at Gorilla, Manchester 25 May 2019 Tickets from £16.50 — Book now

For fans of Jon Hopkins, Rival Consoles and Nils Frahm, Max Cooper makes cinematic, emotion-filled electronic music which combines classical and IDM styles. Before becoming a full-time musician, Cooper was a genetics researcher at UCL, where he spent his time dreaming up new computer simulations of life. Not much, actually, has changed. Exploring the symbiosis of art and science, his music seeks to represent the complexities of existence, and to marvel at its beauty. Epitomising this nuanced approach to music-making is his latest album, One Hundred Billion Sparks. This will provide the focus of his upcoming, ultra-immersive audio-visual show at Gorilla.

Born and raised in Belfast, Max Cooper carved out his unique style whilst lovingly crafting his early EP’s. This style is predicated on the contrast between complexity and simplicity – he pairs crystalline, microscopic sounds with sweeping, ambient textures. Human (2013), his first album, exemplifies this. Exploring the dualities within a life (nature vs nurture, emotions vs rationality), the record is a pretty amazing debut whose strengths lie in Cooper’s penchant for tension-building. The track ‘Seething’ is one of many highlights, contrasting glitchy and aggressive IDM with transcendent moments of beauty. ‘Numb’ is similarly great, encasing warm analogue synth ostinatos in cold digital distortions. Imagine a Prophet 6 being played inside a Faraday cage.

Album number two, Emergence (2016), saw Cooper again pair grandiose atmospheres with intricate detail. The Four Tet-esque broken beat of ‘Order From Chaos’ is particularly good, as is the twin punch of dancefloor-leaning IDM tracks ‘Waves’ and ‘Distant Light’. With the album being all about evolution, Cooper saw an opportunity to create some awe-inspiring audio-visual shows to support the release. These told the story of our universe, from pre-big bang to future, with each chapter a collaboration with a different visual artist, including some collaborations with mathematicians and scientists which employed real data visualisation.

With Emergence looking decidedly outward, album number three was an opportunity for Cooper to look inward. 2018’s One Hundred Billion Sparks saw him searching for artistry among the mechanisms, emotions and constructs which yield our identity and experience. Conceptualised during a month-long period of imposed isolation – no internet, no phone, no human contact – the album charts Cooper’s exploration of his own identity. The result, predictably, is pretty beautiful. The mind-massaging ‘Hope’ is among the best tracks, offering up a cosmic journey whose ebbs and flows draw you in and refuse to let go. The gloriously dark, Daniel Avery-esque ‘Identity’ is also great, as is the subtly beautiful ‘Love Song’.

Since the release of that album, Cooper has been touring a 270 immersive audio-visual show which employs the roof and walls to envelop the audience in his world of visuals. According to the man himself, it’s his most ambitious live show so far, and according to critics, it’s something that all Max Cooper fans need to see. We can’t wait to catch it at Gorilla!

Max Cooper at Gorilla, Manchester 25 May 2019 Tickets from £16.50 Book now

Where to go near Max Cooper at Gorilla

Dog Bowl bowling alley and restaurant Manchester.
Bar or Pub
Dog Bowl

A bar and 10-pin bowling alley combined, Dog Bowl is a neon-lit venue that serves up cocktails and Tex-Mex food to go with your time on the lanes.

Bar or Pub
Black Dog Ballroom NWS

Black Dog Ballroom is a three-level bar, club and restaurant complete with roof terrace covered to provide protection during Manchester’s rainy season.

Photo of people going through Cornerhouse's front doors

Cornerhouse on Oxford Street was an independent cinema, gallery, restaurant, bookshop – oh yes, and also a Manchester institution. It has now closed it’s doors, relocated and reinvented itself as HOME.

City Centre
Bar or Pub
The Temple

Originally called The Temple of Convenience owing to its former life as a public toilet block, this is a tiny bar with some of the finest bathroom graffiti in town.

Bar or Pub
The Thirsty Scholar

Friendly pub under a railway arch serving vegetarian and vegan pub food, as well as hosting regular live music.

Palace Theatre Manchester
Palace Theatre

A Manchester landmark for almost 130 years, The Palace Theatre is reopening in early August 2021 with a few small but vital changes to ensure a safe and pleasant experience for all.

City Centre
The Refuge

The Refuge is a restaurant and bar based at Kimpton Clocktower Hotel, specialising in bright, exciting small plates.

Bundobust Oxford Road
Bar or Pub
Bundobust Brewery

Launched in 2021, the Bundobust Brewery makes modern beer with their vegetarian and vegan food menu in mind.

City Centre
Bar or Pub
Peveril Of The Peak

Iconic Manchester pub adorned with the sorts of bottle green, yellow and brown Victorian tiles that are a reclamation yard’s dream – this gem of a boozer is named after Sir Walter Scott’s novel of the same name and was a favourite hang-out of Eric Cantona.

Café or Coffee Shop
Burgess Cafe Bar

Small but perfectly-formed café – which also serves as the in-house bookstore, stocking all manner of Burgess-related works, along with recordings of his music. It’s a welcoming space, with huge glass windows making for a bright, welcoming atmosphere.

Rain Bar pub in Manchester
City Centre
Bar or Pub
Rain Bar

This huge three-floor pub, formerly a Victorian warehouse, then an umbrella factory (hence the name), has one of the city centre’s largest beer gardens. The two-tier terrace overlooks the Rochdale canal and what used to be the back of the Hacienda, providing an unusual, historic view of the city.

What's on: Music

DJ Gym at Hatch

Learn some DJ and production skills with DJ Gym Manchester, based in the culturally infused surrounds of Hatch.

from £269
Songs of Descent
Songs of Descent at Niamos

This month the Niamos hosts Songs of Descent, an operatic monodrama retelling the story of Persephone journeying into the underworld, followed by a joyful curated club night.

from £5.00

Culture Guides

Music in Manchester and the North

Fresh concert seasons, forward-thinking festivals and a revolving door of amazing gigs. Things are looking bright as spring comes into view.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

February is a month of love so art lovers in the North - rejoice! There is lots to choose from: two photography festivals, gorgeous crafts and shows celebrating local talent.