By Amanda Nordqvist
Apart from his job as a professor of writing and literature, Australian David McCooey is also a self-taught audio producer, composer and musician, and he recently released his second album, The Double. The album is a deep dive into other-worldly ambiences, an intriguing mix of synthetic and organic sound, balancing tensely on a thin line between soothing and unnerving. The album is in part an homage to its namesake, the fascinating short story collection by Maria Takolander, and it expertly captures what Takolander’s collection set the tone for – the horrors, and the beauty, of human loneliness.
Modern Nature sparks an immediate enchantment, thrusts you into the scenery, and smoothly acclimatizes you to the rugged rhythmic of the piece. McCooey introduces his key element during the first few seconds of the album – the usage of found samples and text-to-speech synthesis. Three Sisters suddenly throws you out of the immersion and instead invokes a sense of floating above – it’s an eerie feeling, hearing the muffled voices of a conversation you’re not a part of, witnessing a scene you’re not meant to witness. The title track comes next, a solemn piece with a gentle forward pull, perfectly accompanying the story being told.
McCooey keeps introducing a new mix of sounds throughout the album, with The Old World proving the most obvious example – a timeworn, minimalistic base, contrasted by dramatic pads, bells and horns, often distorted beyond recognition. The Obscene Bird of Night 1 is a construction site daydream, voices of train tracks and turning cranes making me a stranger in a familiar city, wandering around in my own thoughts, outside noise seeping in and coloring the images in my head. Later comes the perfect epitome of the loneliness so adamant in Takolander’s short story collection, portrayed in the mesmerizing Not to Disturb – the steady hope of having found your path, but needing to walk it alone, fighting only the voice of doubt in your head.
The Double is as interesting as it is moving – at every turn it goes from deeply emotional to eerily experimental, and every track is its own story, matching the pace of Takolander’s haunting writings. McCooey has a phenomenal ear for the unknown and seems unafraid to leap into waters that many would deem too deep; and it pays off, as he ends up with an incredibly memorable album in his hands.