A Sense of Place: Hether Blether by Erland Cooper

In Scotland, when people congregate, they tend to argue and discuss and reason; in Orkney, they tell stories.”

George Mackay Brown

After soaring with the birds on Solan Goose and taking to the sea for Sule Skerry, award-winning multi-instrumentalist, composer, & producer Erland Cooper turns to the land and its people to conclude his Orkney-themed musical trilogy. Named after a fabled hidden island in local folklore, Hether Blether brings together the most emotive music of the series with poetry and story fragments to complete a portrait of the islands where he grew up that is both sweeping and compelling.

“This is a story of a young girl that went missing one day, whose family longed for her, before they found her, on a stormy fishing trip, in an island emerging from the fog. On the new island, she was grown-up, with children of her own. She gives her family a stake to enable them to return to see her, but it is lost in the sea, as is she, forever…”

The tale of the island and the missing girl who is its tragic protagonist permeates the album like a collective memory. It is referenced in the titles of the songs, interview snippets, and particularly in the lyrical poetry of John Burnside given voice by Kathryn Joseph on “Noup Head” and “Longhope”. And as with Solan Goose and Sule Skerry, Cooper once again relies on a small, capable ensemble of musicians to give expression to his compositions, allowing them to shine on such affecting instrumentals such as “Rousay” and “Skreevar”. For his own part, Cooper carries the vocals to the title and closing tracks as well as “Peedie Breeks” (local dialect for ‘short trousers’), a sincere plea to preserve our coastlines which he sees as symbolizing the “magic of the everyday” that should be passed from generation to generation. In all its multi-colored threads, Hether Blether is a rich and resonant tapestry, woven with love and reverence for the people and place it depicts.

Directed by Alex Kozobolis – Poetry by John Burnside – Spoken word by Kathryn Joseph

Links:  Hether Blether (streaming) | Hether Blether (LP/CD) | Erland Cooper | Bandcamp

Hether Blether is available digitally as well as on CD and vinyl LP featuring photography by Alex Kozobolis and design by Kathy Kielty.

Landform (with Marta Salogni)

“The essence of Orkney’s magic is silence, loneliness and the deep marvelous rhythms of sea and land, darkness and light”

George Mackay Brown

For each album in the triptych, Cooper has collaborated with another artist to develop a companion listening experience of a more abstract and experimental nature. The thrid in the series is Landform which features artist, producer & recording engineer Marta Salogni. Far from being a simple remix or extended version of the album material, this is a fully fleshed-out suite of music in seven movements that complements Hether Blether with a dramatically different listening experience. Whereas the former focused very much on the people of Orkney and their personal stories, the latter boldly fuses imaginative soundscapes with compositional elements to create a sense of the wildness and isolated grandeur of Orcadian geography as well as to capture the aura of its complex history.

Link: https://erlandcooper.ffm.to/landform

Landform is available for digital streaming or download on most major platforms (link tree above). As with the previous companion works, the artwork comes from landscape artist Norman Ackroyd.