Looking back at Hein Cooper’s gorgeous 2016 album, The Art of Escape

Sydney based singer/songwriter Hein Cooper has progressed in leaps and bounds following the release of his debut EP in 2015, captivating listeners with soaring vocals, eclectic soundscapes and abstract lyrics. Initially found playing covers in bars five nights a week, Cooper emerged on the global stage in a whirlwind, receiving praise on Triple J Unearthed, signing with Canadian indie label Indica Records and taking off on a mammoth tour, playing his music to audiences all over the world. Inspired by his travels, Cooper was quick to release new music, his debut LP The Art of Escape a lush progression of his heavenly vocals and insane guitar skills.

Recorded and produced in Montreal, Canada, The Art of Escape features intricately layered soundscapes that glide between pop-infused hooks, acoustic melodies and vastly experimental synth. Traversing genres, Cooper weaves a dream like narrative with wacky lyrics, freaky sounds and a deftly operated loop pedal. Shifting effortlessly from angelic coos to gritty drawls, this album is a tribute to his musical versatility, displaying an incredible vocal range in 12 individual tracks that are brought together with slick production by the esteemed Marcus Paquin.

“Rusty” kicks off with catchy acoustics that’ll please all the foot tappers out there. Peppered with electric guitar licks, rhythmic clapping and a brightly timbered melody, Cooper’s oh so sweet vocals are the cherry on top of a silky smooth tune that has been undoubtedly successful following its initial release as a single. In contrast, rock flavored “Underflow” features pounding drums, reverberating bass and harmonic whistling. Nuanced with harmonic twangs of the electric guitar, this tune has a mystical feel to it with kooky lyrics that unfold in honeyed murmurs.

A crescendo of angelic synth introduces “Dopamine”, a track that gives off indie folk vibes with acoustic guitar melodies, driving drums and organic vocals. Laced with references to the natural world, listening to this song conjures up a wonderfully ethereal campfire scene. “The Real” emits a sense of intrigue, opening with a thick bass sequence that creeps along slowly, layering fractured tremors of synth and imaginative lyrics that are delivered in Cooper’s enviably sexy croons. A climatic thrash of the cymbal fades into a dreamy extended coda, rolling out in a medley of deliberated drums, looped vocals and synthesized echoes.

“All My Desires” picks up the pace, opening with an energetic guitar arrangement that continues throughout the track. Earnest lyrics explore the internal struggle of longing for the unattainable, muted rumbles of the bass guitar leading into a chorus that works with contrasting melodies and teardrop like chimes.

Surging with creativity, The Art of Escape is a dynamic record that showcases tremendous talent and curiosity. Crafted with miming melodies and a trusty loop pedal, each song has a distinctive character. Cooper’s musical experimentation gives the album a real edge, artfully combining soaring vocals with diverse arrangements on the guitar and drums. Cooper refers to his, ‘lucid dreaming’ in “All My Desires”, a trait that is reflected in figurative lyrics that communicate personal emotion and observation. Stunningly produced, The Art of Escape is an absolute treat – perfect to bliss out to on a balmy summers day or better yet, interpretative dance to on a gin fueled night.

Review Score: 8.0 out of 10

The Art of Escape is out now.

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