Cohen, who lives in Philadelphia, has spent decades perfecting his immersive style. His work from the '70s and '80s was collected on three retrospective LPs that, like this record, came out on Rabih Beaini's Morphine label. In the '90s, he stopped recording, deciding his improvisatory approach was better suited to live performance. Brother I Prove You Wrong is his first recorded material since the Morphine reissue brought him into the spotlight, and his most substantial new release in a long time. It demonstrates that, after all those years of work, Cohen's music is sounding better than ever.
What's particularly striking is the range Cohen gets out of his humble tabletop instrument. The Buchla itself is bewitching, its skewed tonalities sounding distinct from the usual cast of vintage synths. But surely only Cohen could make it sing like it does here, from the synthetic dawn chorus of "Cloud Hands" to the almost-funky "Beirut." "Sacred Mountain" starts off as a sternly hypnotic loop-piece; by the time we've segued into "Visitors Of The Sacred Mountain," we're in some Aguirre-like tropical wilderness, complete with the twitter of distant birdsong.
These tracks all fall in the album's lighter opening half. Later, Cohen invites us further and further into the depths. "Formation Of Matter" is all low-end throb and eardrum-tickling FX. "Cold War II" is abyssal techno with a frantic climax. The album's best track, "Mankind And Mannequins," is its bleakest, with Cohen's synth work framing a darkly cryptic monologue. The combination brings to mind Robert Ashley's "The Park," except where Ashley's world is gentle and sunny, Cohen's is far grimmer, a sinkhole of slowly escalating dread. "After they had explored all the planets and all the stars of the galaxy, they found that they were completely alone," intones the narrator, presumably Cohen himself. "They realised it was up to them to become everything they had imagined possible." With Brother I Prove You Wrong, Cohen more than fulfils his potential.