New York Times
Knvul Sheikh November 09, 2019
On Oct. 29, a composition by The ClimateMusic Project — a jazz and spoken-word piece called “What If We…?” — was performed by the band COPUS in front of an audience of about 250 people at the World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., for the opening of the World Bank’s Art of Resilience exhibition.
To create the piece, Wendy Loomis, the composer for ClimateMusic, and Alison Marklein, an environmental researcher at the University of California, Riverside, began with data on sea-level rise published in the journal Earth’s Future in 2018 and often cited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A computer algorithm then converted each foot of potential sea-level rise into an audio frequency, each frequency slightly higher than the last. The result was the aural equivalent of a graph.
The composition begins with audio representing the current-day sea level. As the piece progresses, it tracks the data into the future, like the time axis on a graph. The music becomes increasingly distorted and intense, and a battle ensues between the bass (representing diminishing land area) and the drums (rising sea level) that is emotionally jarring.
Video by the Climate Music Project of the COPUS World Bank performance can be seen here:
Spoken over the composition are fictional (but plausible) news headlines from the future, envisaging how rising sea levels may affect the globe, such as “The Arctic Ocean is ice free for the first time” and “the Marshall Islands are almost completely swallowed by the Pacific Ocean.”
Michael Allison, MusicDish.com
"COPUS is a musical group with some of the most talented musicians that I have yet come across. The music is a mixture of Spoken Word, jazz, a touch of blues and a hint of classical styles. This music is a little difficult to compare to anyone else because I have never really heard anyone like this group. The jazz styles are very complex and the music that is created is absolutely masterful. These compositions are amazing with just the music, but then you get the added pleasure of the smooth spoken word vocal styles of Royal Kent.
His poetic onslaught of powerful lyrics are mind boggling, to say the least. His silky smooth voice holds a tight grip on the listener's ear and keeps them in a state of mind numbing ecstasy. The musical virtuosity of the members in this group is absolutely amazing. Having this much talent in one band should be a crime. The music develops into a sort of scenic painting in your mind as it is played. The warmth and soul of the musicians is almost seamlessly produced throughout the entire album. This is musicianship and songwriting at its best. I don't have to tell you how impressed I am at the talent and musical excellence that is portrayed here. This is new music for the new millennium. I also recommend this be one of the first choices for Spoken Word Album of the Year."
"Personal Notes: I never considered myself a fan of spoken word styles of jazz. Although I have always been a jazz fan, the spoken word aspect was never one of my favorites. This band has definitely changed that perspective. I was surprised at how much I liked this music. There is something about it that makes me want to hear it more. I'm not sure if it's the music or the lyrics or the vocals. I only know that it's there and it is definitely alluring. It is my belief that this music could be legendary if given the opportunity to thrive. I've heard the buzz about this style, but never thought much of it until I heard the music. Now you need to hear it, whoever YOU are. The worst that could happen is that you broaden your horizons and find yourself really loving a style of music that you might not have known about before. If you are already one of those who like the spoken word style, then this is a group well worth checking out. This is one band that I am really happy to have as a part of my music community."
Tom Kidd, Music Connection Magazine
"From San Francisco group COPUS comes one of the most intriguing, challenging, and ultimately satisfying albums of the year. The core of the group is composer, musical director and co-producer Wendy Loomis and Royal Kent, poet and co-producer. Together, they produce music that is part jazz, part classical, cerebral and sexy. Think of Copus as the love child of Jack Kerouac and Grace Jones."
S.F. Bay Guardian
Music Pick: "After meeting at an open mic event six years ago, poet Royal Kent and composer Wendy Loomis pooled their talents and formed Copus, a group that fuses spoken word with the members' own brand of millennium music (a mix of classical, world, blues, jazz, and other genres). This freethinking approach to the creative process makes Copus - now a full-fledged band with flute, drums, stand up bass, and other instruments - perfect as host of 'Language: The Journey to World Peace'."
"I'll know my song well before I start singing"
~ Bob Dylan