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‘Carve The Runes Then Be Content With Silence’ Grooves Start To The Project’s Tour

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

In spring 2021, Orcadian composer and solo artist Erland Cooper planted the only existing copy of his forthcoming album ‘ Carve the Runes Then Be Content With Silence’ in Orkney, deleting all digital files and leaving only a treasure hunt of clues for fans and his record label alike to search for it.

If no one was able to find it from the clues he was leaving then in 2024 he would dig it up himself. But it was discovered by super sleuths from Kirkwall, Victoria and Dan Rhodes. An Orkney Tapestry with Erland Cooper

‘Carve the Runes Then Be Content With Silence’ will be released exactly as it sounds from the earth, with the soil’s alterations, 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.

You can preorder ‘Carve the Runes Then Be Content With Silence’ here

The tape, still drying out on the top of Victoria and Dan’s kitchen cupboard, will start its long, slow and patient journey back to London via a series of local record shops, from Orkney to Totnes, where it will be on public display alongside its accompanying artefacts until 2024. 

The tour begins its first leg this month, starting in the most northern record shop in the country, Orkney’s Grooves records, then it heads to Assai in Dundee, Monorail in Glasgow and Assai in Edinburgh, before arriving in England.

Neil Stevenson, Grooves Records said:

“We are so delighted to be the first record shop on the display box tour,  it has been such an interesting project so far and it’s just great that Erland wants people to go and value record shops, to check out the album on its drying out process in person” 

Its final destination will be at the Barbican on 8 June 2024. Alongside very special guests, in this one-off performance Cooper shall both reveal and play back the retrieved tape from the soil, and with some exceptional musicians, perform the album exactly as it sounds from the earth.(Find more information on Erland’s Barbican performance here.)

Erland Cooper explained:

 “This work is a meditation on value, patience and time, as well as the often disposable nature of music. It seems fitting to me that the tape will slowly return and dry out between Orkney and London, in those safe havens of record shops that bring value to mine and my peers’ work.

“People can see the tape with all its artefacts: the stone, the score, the violin but not yet hear it until 2024 as planned.  This honours all the virtues of the project. It feels like there is value in having to wait, just a little bit longer for this one copy to be heard. From darkness to light and the kindness of strangers who found it”

” Please visit record shops in person, buy music from the artists you like while you are there. I may see you as I hand deliver this precious cabinet of curiosities. This project serves to celebrate not my music but everyone else in the arts. Whether my tape is silent or not, support the melody you do hear and those yet to uncover.”

Image credit Rebecca Marr

The ¼ inch magnetic tape was planted in an intimate ceremony in May 2021 – along with a violin, a full printed score, a biscuit box with a letter and special carved rune stone. The violin played an important role in protecting the tape as it lay directly above them in the ground to ensure the shovel (and the tape finder) did not damage the tape. All digital recordings of the album were deleted leaving only the recording on tape as the sole copy.

Erland challenged listeners to cherish patience in an era of instant gratification when suggesting they start looking for the album. Inspired by Erland’s synergy with life in the wild, the album will have naturallydeteriorated through its time in the earth.

Co-Presidents of Decca Label Group, Laura Monks and Tom Lewis, said, 

“This is such an irresistible story. At one level it is a totally original idea from a unique artistic mind – a treasure hunt, amateur sleuths and the romance of Orkney. At a deeper level, Erland is asking us to stop, wait and think before listening. And, in a world of instant gratification, that’s really compelling. When we signed the deal, we refused to listen to the music before it was planted. We wanted to hear it as others would – once mother nature has done her work on the tapes.”

‘Carve the Runes Then Be Content With Silence’ is a new composition written and recorded for solo violin and string ensemble. Over three movements it celebrates George Mackay Brown on his Centenary, 2021 marking 100 years since the Orcadian poet’s birth.

Maintaining his thriving relationship with organic landscapes, Erland’s work ruminates on time, hope and the community that surrounds it.  The composition was recorded at The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland with internationally acclaimed violin soloist Daniel Pioro (known for his work with the BBC Philharmonic) Jonny Greenwoodand Studio Collective and a specially selected RCS chamber string group and mixed by Marta Salogni (Björk, Anna Meredith, Daniel Avery). The tape will eventually be digitised and mastered by Guy Davies, Marta Salogni and Cooper.

1 reply »

  1. What an interesting idea, whilst still being slightly bonkers. I’m glad it’s not going onto my reel to reel player, not that I even have one these days.
    Great interview too.

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