Erland Cooper: Solan Goose – Album Review
Available from March 23 2018
Solan Goose is the new instrumental album from Erland Cooper, of The Magnetic North and Erland and the Carnival. Each track takes the Orcadian name of a bird common to Orkney.
Whitemaa, Solan Goose, Maalie, Shalder…
We migrate: our collective wingspan a thousand feathers deep. Wing beats; heart beats; silent to all but those in flight. Side by side, facing forwards on trams, buses, trains and tube, positioned together in common purpose, separated only by centimetres, by wing tip, by the brush of your coat against mine, by the remaining sliver of steel on the handrail, by lives of stunning similarity and chasmic distinction, converging at points invisible, unknown: the magnetic routes of our progress.
Behind us is Avocet, a wetland bird of twelve string reeds and Jansch evocation. As we clear the headland, we fly in beady tandem with the rhythmic patrols of British Sea Power’s The Great Skua (cf. Bonxie). High above the Spearing of the Sunfish, Cooper’s Solan Goose a subtle, soaring companion to the rolling might of British Sea Power’s avian aquatic sound sculpting. A thousand feathers high, now at last we are grounded in context, ensconced amidst the flock.
Cattie-face, Aak, Kittiwaako, Whaup…
Grounded, that is, in an avian, windswept yet purposeful way configured by Cooper’s Minimoog and piano, Charlotte Greenhow’s Hardanger violin and soprano and Leo Abrahams’ ambient guitar, voices rising and falling, cooing and calling, far away, horizon to horizon, Fata Morgana, northerly, southerly, good to sublime.
I try to taste my tears but all I taste is the sea.
In the ebb of the tide will you weep for me?
In the flow, will you weep, will you cry?
Collaboration is key in the realisation of works by Cooper and the filmmaker Alex Kozobolis, with each other and others, both physically present during this alchemical process and in terms of the place-centred art, images and writing of those who fly parallel routes. In the accompanying films of Kozobolis I find a curiosity and contemplative mood that is also the hallmark of the impressionistic natural abstract images of Clare Archibald, ruminations on rugged landscapes, the intimate and the vast. Through the camera’s lens, I tread the coastal edges after the self-imposed isolation of Amy Liptrot, walking vicariously in her lonely footsteps, trying to imbibe just a fraction of her strength, Cooper’s Goose the graceful conduit. I suspect that in Orkney, there are no shortcuts. Skeletons of deserted crofts decompose, relics of former lives, former ways of living, iterations of life that are now the past are beached in the present like stranded whales. Snowbound, in Manchester, I drink Jasmine tea and photograph the seagulls and sand revealed in the residue at the bottom of my cup. I keep on returning to this elegant album that soundtracks these unexpectedly snowbound, detached days while somehow revealing the glisk on the incoming tide.
Solan Goose = northern gannet
Whitemaa = herring gull
Maalie = fulmar
Shalder = oystercatcher
Moosiehaak = kestrel
Bonxie = Great Skua
Kittiwako = kittiwake
Kattiface = short-eared owl
Whaup = curlew
Tammie Norrie = Atlantic puffin
Watch the video for the title track Solan Goose:
You can find Alex Kozobolis online here.
Find the Orkney Ringer’s website here.