“The icon of post-everything music” – Lawrence English (::Room40::)

“He calls for the listener before the musician and music for him is not a grand statement: it channels a diffused mood, not made just of sounds but of visions, incidental noises, colours, stories, traditions, lyrics, images in motion.” 

Daniela Cascella in En Abime-Listening, Reading,Writing.


photo – greg weight – (please credit if used) –

“His eclectic attitude has often embraced the idea of re-representing a multitude of cultural references , through a very particular way of mixing elements and fantasies into a visionary model that goes beyond the simple idea of multiculturalism”

( NERO magazine – Valerio Mannucci ) 

 ‘Cooper, now in his seventies, is making the most adventurous music of his life… incredibly rich and evocative, and as a live performance, it’s utterly flawless. Cooper takes live guitar processing and sampling as his raw material, using it to build something complex and substantive, full of ideas and surprises, not just abandoning it half-formed. – (Jonathan Dean – Brainwashed.)


Welcome to those who already know my work and to those who don’t….


For the past 50 years he has been an international artistic explorer  constantly pushing the boundaries.

He plays lap steel guitar and sings, he is an improviser and composer, song-maker,visual and installation artist; film and video maker and radio arts producer.

Initially a folk-blues guitarist 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.

“Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,

Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not. (The Tempest)

He is also a  film and video maker. His 40 minute feature video Hotel Hibiscus City, which he wrote, photographed, edited and scored the music for (originally intended as a live performance piece) is available as a 14 part download for mobile devices from YouTube, as are over 40 other examples of his work. An on-going project is a multi screen short video installation titled ‘Island-Island Gardens’ connecting several islands around the world with exploration of their sound, story, myth and magical thinking, as well as visually.

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.

 “The fox knows many things; the hedgehog one great thing.”  
              Archilochus (Greek Poet 680bpe – 645bpe).
For the past 25 years he 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. 
Beach Crossings-Pacific Footprints, originally conceived as a live radio-art piece for a small orchestra, has been broadcast in Italy, France, Australia, England, Portugal and the Philippines, as well as being released as a c.d. and performed live in several countries and in several languages. It is one of several similar pieces composed for radio. 
ARTIST IN RESIDENCE In 2012 and 2013 he was artist in residence on Pulau Ubin, an island between Singapore and Malaysia, which culminated in “Walking In Ubin” – producing a ‘sound map’ of the island, four short video films as well as a series of field recordings, which are available for free download from the internet archive. Walking In Ubin has been presented in Singapore and Taiwan.  A similar 2013 artist residency on Lamma Island near Hong Kong produced sound works for the Sound Pocket Library in Hong Kong as well as four short videos and initiated the work on the video installation “Island”.  A third residency in the summer of 2013 on the Greek Island of Syros for Syros Sound Meeting, a workshop series for international sound artists, where Cooper was guest ‘artist in residence’, produced sound works and three videos for the ‘Island’ project.
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.

LIVE IN BRISBANE – extract –


Onassis Centre Athens; MAXXI – Rome; MONA-Hobart,Tasmania; Institute of Modern Art Brisbane; Museum of Contemporary Art – Sydney; Experimental Arts Foundation Adelaide; Esplanade – Singapore; SAM – Singapore; National Arts Centre Tokyo; Metropolis Cinema Beirut; Beirut Arts Centre; University of Hong Kong; Honolulu Academy of Arts; Institute Of Contemporary Arts London; Auditorium Rome; Venice Biennale; GRIM Marseille; Athens Video Arts Festival, Greece; Japan New Media Festival Tokyo; Australian Film Festival Berlin; Casa Encendida Madrid; OUT Festival Lisbon, Portugal; Maria Matos Theatre Lisbon; Irtijal Festival Beirut, Lebanon; Brunswick Music Festival Melbourne; Nicklesdorf Jazztage Austria; Festival CABLE Nantes, France; Wellington International Jazz Festival New Zealand; Hula Dreams Triennial  Sydney; Teatro In Scatola Rome; Cafe Oto London; Cinematek Oslo, Norway; London College of Communication – London; Kings College London; University of Bath, England; Southern Cross University Lismore,Australia; Griffith University Brisbane,Australia; University of Barcelona and many other smaller but as significant venues. 

Some recent publications that mention the work

Daniela Cascella’s book En Abime:Listening, Reading,Writing where she discusses his c.d. Rayon Hula

Italian arts periodical NERO – 

Magical Thinking, Spirit Songs and Walking On Leaves In Ubin by Mike Cooper

OUTBACK AND BEYOND with  Australian video artist Grayson Cooke –
CHRIS ABRAHAMS (pianist with the Necks) in duo –
TRUTH IN THE ABSTRACT BLUES (Fabrizio Spera Drums/Roberto Bellatalla Double Bass)
SPIRIT SONGS  – a five piece unit with Elio Martusciello (electronics), Michael Thieke (clarinet), Luca Venituci (piano/accordion), Fabrizio Spera (drums)



“There are islands that have been believed to exist, islands which have appeared on maps and have even had expeditions mounted to locate or conquer them, yet they have still evaded our observation. Some are eventually established as imaginary; daemonic. Others are seen only on old maps and charts, disappearing in more modern depictions, dismissed as mistakes. Others still are unsuccessfully sought for decades, and dismissed as fanciful or mythic, and then embarrassingly found in plain view, under another, more familiar name. Mike Cooper is perhaps one of these islands. Born in England in 1942, his 40-plus years of constant re-invention, experimentation and quiet genius in a myriad of musical styles has evaded categorization, perhaps as a side-effect of having been almost completely ignored by history. Encompassing Blues, Folk, Roots music, Electronica, Jazz, Exotica / Lounge, Dance, Noise, Modern Composition or Improvisation (amongst others), Cooper’s expansive remit blasts orthodox categorization into the befuddled librarian’s realm where it belongs.”

‘The Limits of My Language are the Limits of My World’. Wittgenstein.

“Hail the Happy Accident – an Interview with Mike Cooper”