Erland Cooper explores the Earth
Two new works interact with the world around us
Groundbreaking Scottish composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Erland Cooper shares his ambitious fourth studio album Folded Landscapes. Known for merging modern classical-electronic music with evocative storytelling and conceptual art, Erland shares his urgent observation on climate change, temperature and time. This poignant chamber string work figuratively and literally thaws over seven movements, unfolding with electronics, poetry, soprano, piano, harpsichord, field recordings and samples. The work features Scottish Ensemble, UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and other voices including activist Greta Thunberg, multi-award winning conservationist Dara McNaulty and & visual artist Norman Ackroyd. Field recordings of the natural world include the California wildfires and crashing glaciers.
The creative process mimicked the rising temperature of the piece from glacial to a threatening burn – musicians were recorded in subzero temperatures and the audio master tape was sun-burnt on the hottest day in UK history. The heat, moisture, salt and sunlight worked its way into the fabric of the tape, which has been mixed into the finished work, underscoring the work with an unsettling burn that crackles and pops.
A percentage of the copyright share will go to Brian Eno’s EarthPercent charity as a beautiful way of embedding the planet as a stakeholder in musical creativity and raising money for climate/environmental organisations. The Earth’s share of the song – and its income – will be directed to EarthPercent to redistribute to organisations tackling the climate crisis. Folded Landscapes is released on Mercury KX.
Monorail will be hosting Erland Cooper’s Carve The Runes reel to reel after it was discovered in the the north of Scotland by intrepid fans. In spring 2021 Cooper planted the only existing copy of his album on tape in Orcadian soil, near his childhood home. An eccentric 18-month quest followed with several clues found in Erland’s interviews, across his social media, website and newsletter released every equinox and solstice since he announced nature’s involvement in his album’s sound. Whilst on holiday this month, two delighted locals flexed their detective skills to unearth the nature nurtured tape after following the idiosyncratic treasure hunt from the very beginning. ‘Carve the Runes Then Be Content With Silence’ will be released exactly as it sounds from the earth, with the soil’s alternations forming part of the composition itself, in 2024 via Mercury KX – the cross-genre modern classical, ambient and electronic label that have not heard a single note of Erland’s unprecedented label debut.
The album is a recording of Cooper’s brand new three-movement composition for solo violin and string ensemble. The work marks the centenary of celebrated Orkney poet George Mackay Brown, as 2021 marks 100 years since his birth.
Inspired by natural landscapes and ruminating on time, hope, community and patience, the sole recording of the work – on ¼ inch magnetic tape, with the digital files permanently deleted – has been planted to grow and be nurtured or “recomposed” by the earth, before being exhumed and released in three years’ time. Whilst Cooper will not be unearthing the tape until 2024, he has left a trail for anyone to search and find it if they wish. A map with clues to the location of the planting site will be released via his digital platforms. If the planted tape is found, Erland will invite the discoverer to his studio to embark on a journey together for the treasured first listen. It will then be released exactly as it sounds from the earth.