A Sense of Place: Solan Goose by Erland Cooper [Phases]


Erland Cooper is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist and producer whose previous projects include The Magnetic North and Erland and the Carnival as well as scoring and producing music for TV & film. Cooper was born and raised far from the urban landscape surrounding his London studio in Orkney, situated just beyond the northern tip of the Scottish mainland. It is a breathtaking locale steeped in folklore, myth, and nautical culture and it is the place to which he returns for his debut solo project called Solan Goose. The album prominently features the area’s avian fauna and the local Orcadian dialect which reflects the intertwining of its Scots and Norse lingual heritage.

“Having grown up on the Scottish archipelago of Orkney, he wrote this work as a response to ease anxiety and claustrophobia working in a city. It explores the borders between electronic, alternative and classical music while creating for him and the listener a work of balance and calm – a kind of liminal space. Each song is entitled with a bird name but in local ‘Orcadian’ dialect. It’s a record to travel to, and evokes themes of migration, restoration and childhood memory.”

The goal is ambitious but Cooper and his collaborators are more than up to the task of whisking us away from our mundane surroundings and immersing us in the insular magic of this very special place. As he shapes and drives the narrative with a combination of piano, 70’s Minimoog, and percussion, Charlotte Greenhow‘s ethereal soprano and resonant Hardanger fiddle infuse the pieces with utterly beguiling beauty that swoops and soars while Leo Abrahams adds an abundance of rich textural layers and counterpoint with his ambient guitar work as if hewing out the contours of the surrounding landscape. The filigree is fine and intimate, but when it all comes together, the exhilarating sweep is grand and cinematic.

The crowning touches that make Solan Goose so quintessentially transportive are organic elements of native authenticity – the song and chatter of the namesake birds woven seamlessly throughout the sonic canvas and fragments of interviews taken from the archives of Ann Marwick‘s Radio Orkney program ‘The Wye hid Wis’.  By the end, the deep fondness and awe the composer has for this place has transferred to the listener in full fidelity. It is a wondrous journey.

The vinyl LP edition of Solan Goose is currently sold out but is available in digital form on a variety of platforms.  Check the links below for more information.

Links:  Solan Goose (buy/listen)Erland Cooper Online Store |  Erland Cooper website