Photo Greg Weight.
Mike Cooper plays lap steel guitar and sings.
He is also an improviser and composer, a song-maker, a visual and installation artist, a film and video maker and a radio arts producer.
Initially a folk-blues guitarist (which is how the Goose first knew him, back in the sixties) he is as responsible as anyone else — and more so than many — for ushering in the acoustic blues boom in the U.K. in the mid ’60s.
He has, arguably, stretched the possibilities of that genre even more than his better known contemporaries Davy Graham, Bert Jansch, John Renbourne etc. by pursuing it into the more avant-garde musical areas occupied by guitar innovators such as Elliott Sharp, Keith Rowe, Fred Frith and Marc Ribot, with an eclectic mix of the many styles he has practiced over the years.
Ranging freely through free improvisation, his own idiosyncratic original songs, electro-acoustic music, exotica, traditional country blues, folk, pop songs, and ‘sonic gestural’ playing utilising open tunings, extended guitar techniques and electronics.
A live audio-visual collaboration, Outback And Beyond, with Australian video artist Grayson Cooke, described as an ‘electronic opera’, has been performed in England, Spain, Greece, Germany, Norway, Australia and Japan where it won a prize at the 2013 Japan New Media Arts Festival in Tokyo.
For the past 25 years Mike has composed and performed Live Music For Classic and Contemporary Silent Film with screenings worldwide and has given workshops at universities and colleges on scoring music for film and video, as well as improvisation and songwriting. F.W.Murnau’s film Tabu; W.S.Van Dyke’s White Shadows In The South Seas and Eisenstein’s Che Viva Mexico (scored for small orchestra) are among his most requested.
SPIRIT SONGS A recently renewed interest in ‘song-making’ has produced a body of work, called ‘Spirit Songs’, produced using methods similar to William Burroughs and British artist Tom Phillips techniques of cut-up or random selection and/or elimination of texts, working in particular with Thomas Pynchon’s two novels Gravity’s Rainbow and V. When performing Spirit Songs live both the melody and instrumental accompaniment, usually with guitar and electronics, are freely improvised rendering each performance totally unique.
Crikey, there’s loads more, have a gander at his website!