An Orkney Tapestry with Erland Cooper

Erland Cooper pictured in Orkney
Erland Cooper, image credit Samuel Davies.

An Orkney Tapestry with Erlend Cooper.

Orcadian musician and composer Erland Cooper will be featured on the Between the Ears programme An Orkney Tapestry on BBC Radio 3 today (Sunday 10th October), celebrating the work of George Mackay Brown in the centenary year of his birth.

George Mackay Brown’s poetic portrait of Orkney, An Orkney Tapestry, served as the inspiration for a series of recordings made by Cooper and violinist Daniel Pioro at various locations in the isles. The programme also includes readings by the late poet himself along with Cooper’s music and the sounds of the islands, in what promises to be a moving tribute.

Erland Cooper has also recently recorded his first orchestral album, partially inspired by the work of George Mackay Brown. In what is an unusual collaboration with time and the Orcadian landscape itself, the digital masters of these recordings were transferred to reel-to-reel tape and then destroyed. The tape has been buried at an undisclosed location in Orkney.

Erlend Cooper with a reel to reel tape.
Image credit Samuel Davies.

Carve the runes and be content with silence is to be exhumed in 2024 and released along with whatever impact the land has had on it.

The musician has also been busy collaborating with photographer and filmmaker Alex Kozobolis and Scottish songwriter and artist Kathryn Joseph on the soundtrack to a short film, entitled Never Pass into Nothingness. The soundtrack will be released as an EP on the 15th of October 2021. The first piece, But Still Will Keep a Bower Quiet for Us is already available from music streaming services.

Orcadian film-maker Margaret Tait was the initial influence for this project, which is meditative and focussed on “deep listening” and the natural world. Erland Cooper said:

Tate would often seek a kind of magic in her every day surroundings and ambient music can hold a mood and create a sort of landscape in itself. As singles seem to get shorter, I think there is a joy to be found in letting yourself slow down to the pace of the music”

Erland Cooper
Erland Cooper with his head obscured by leaves.
Erland Cooper – Never Pass Into Nothingness. Image credit Samuel Davies.

Between the Ears – An Orkney Tapestry airs on BBC Radio 3 on Sunday the 10th of October at 18:45, and will be available afterwards on catchup on BBC Sounds.

You can also hear an in-depth discussion between Erland Cooper and Martin Laird on these projects and other topics on the Orkney News YouTube channel. The interview was recorded in Stromness Town Hall and includes a piano rendition by Erland of his piece Maalie Over Marwick Head as he warms up for coming live shows.

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