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Eluvium, 'Void Manifest'

Matthew Robert Cooper, the composer who records under the name Eluvium, has spent much of the last 20 years crafting head-filling ambient music — the kind of stuff that can both flood your brain and help clarify your thoughts. Though consistently beautiful, his work never settles on a single mood or tone: The forthcoming (Whirring Marvels In) Consensus Reality will be Eluvium's 13th album, and its songs keep venturing into new forms and moods, aided by a full live orchestra.

Cooper has been dropping two of the album's songs per month in the run-up to Consensus Reality's release on May 12, and "Void Manifest" is its loveliest and most engrossing track yet. Amid dreamy strings and a cloudy swirl of synths, vocalist Charlotte Mundy (a composer in her own right) lends the song a haunted, impressionistic quality. In ways that recall Grace Davidson's hypnotic presence in Max Richter's essential Sleep project, Mundy grounds "Void Manifest" in humanity. Even at its most mysterious, her clear and present voice drifts eloquently in the din — a source of boundless and ever-welcome comfort.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)