Prolific multi-instrumentalist Erland Cooper—also of The Magnetic North and Erland and The Carnival fame—defies genre categorisation, his eclectic sound ranging from electro experiments, lilting folktronica and evocative poetry set to classical tropes. This vinyl release, out on Phases, explores his Scottish origins, each track named after a bird familiar to his native Orkney.
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Who needs the acerbic wit of a Norman Records review when you can just image search a Scottish landscape and live in peace forever? I strongly advise you shut this off right now and Google “Orkney”, the archipelago off the edge of the Scottish coast, an idyllic coastal periphery that Erland Cooper calls home. He’s moved to the big city leagues now, but ‘Solan Coose’ is a folkloric ode to the open, weather-worn spaces of his youth.
Having played in the Magnetic North, Cooper knows a thing or two about making panoramic, post-rock oriented pop music, but this record is a cinematic beast of its own. From its very beginnings, it swells, like an aggressive tide pushing its way forward. The mix of strings and toylike fanfare leads into the goose-quacking and piano chords of the record’s title track, where Cooper opens the record up to ghosts and sunshine, to fading choirs and beaming synths. Using long, languishing motifs and fragmented stutterings of piano on these tracks, Cooper’s record sounds like a score, the expansive, open-armed soundtrack to a private life once lived.
This record is not always plain sailing; though much of Cooper’s melodic inclinations feel aspirational and optimistic, stringwork can be minor and harmonies can be ominous. It is, however, always wide, stretched out on the environment; the press release speaks of Cooper’s wish to make a record that responds to and eases the “anxiety and claustrophobia” of modern city living, and this record is always breathing that fresh Orkney air, floating upwards into the landscape with marching drums on “Aak” or watching fireworks coalesce on the noisy, cosmic “Bonxie”, which sounds like aurora borealis being sung. An absolutely massive record.
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