A project that was made possible by the internet, Re:Cooperation is the five-year project of David Cooper Orton of Wales and James H Sidlo of the U.S. After meeting on the Looper's Delight mailing list, the two started a collaborative project in which they mailed tapes back and forth, slowly adding different sounds and layers. 5 years seems like a pretty long amount of time to be working on a project, and in some cases may lead itself to overindulgence and a stifling of spontaneous ideas, but it's that deliberate pace that actually seems to have helped the recording of this album. With much of the release sounding literally like the logical sequel to the Eno/Lanois/Eno work of Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundscapes, it swings back and forth between highly subtle and quiet to lush and rich.
When I mention the above record, I don't mean to say that this is a half-baked ripoff of that work, either. It seems like I heard music all the time that owes to the early work of Eno, but much of it comes across as tossed-off and hurried, whereas TransCollaboration is so genuinely well made that someone could have played it for me and my first guess would have actually been that it was put together by the aforementioned artists (other than some of the later work on the disc).
With 15 tracks that span 60 minutes, the group never allows anything to meander for too long either (which is another surprising facet given the long incubation time of the release). The disc opens with the three part series of "Thing2," "Thing3," and "Thing4," and the three tracks mix plucked guitar twinklings over layered drones of guitar, working slightly different variations on a theme over the course of almost 15 minutes. If the group is a bit overindulgent at all, it's in these first tracks, but the beautiful soundscapes are hard to argue with. Things continue in a similar way for awhile before things start to switch up a bit a couple tracks later. "Garage Gamelan" takes a slightly darker edge with jangly, distorted chimes while "There And Back And There Again" throws the first real percussion into the mix (although "Time To Spare" hints at it, but doesn't follow through), but the group keeps things on the rails pretty nicely by also anchoring things with a jangly bassline.
"East Of Ealing" again mixes in programmed beats, and it's one of the few mis-steps on the album. Mixing a jaunty beat with some sped-up guitar plucking, the track takes on a goofy world-music lite vibe. "Between Breaks" uses a fairly standard canned breakbeat, but the layered guitar plucking flavors the track nicely. It's the two part "Re:Cooperation" that finds the group working the best with rhythm, though. After building ambience in the first part with a repetitive guitar melody, the second part of the track kicks things into gear with a tin-can clang programmed beat that accents the same melody as it's run through an assortment of filters and treatments. In the end, the album loses a bit of steam around the middle as the duo first works into encorporating a rhythm into the mix, but gets back on its feet again before closing out with another nice run. They're still at their best working pure ambience, but the disc as a whole is fairly successful as well, especially considering the two people who created it have never even met in person.