ERLAND COOPER wraps up a year in which he’s brought us much light, creativity and joy with one final aural missive, the choral EP, Eynhallow, out today on Phases.

Hether Blether, the concluding chapter of the Orkney Trilogy, seduced everyone who came into its welcoming arms in June, with its delicacy, its history, its cultural weave; but above all that gossamer intertwining of modern classical, folk, electronica and found sound. From the soul and from his Orcadian blood.

His performance as part of The Barbican’s autumn live series, was a thing of heartfelt beauty and pretty complex emotion if you were there or indeed, as most of us were, ‘there’ via the medium of the excellently shot live stream. (Read our review here). In two words: deeply touching.

Late November saw the Orkney Trilogy finally concluded with the by now traditional digital postscript, a 35-minute ambient EP in collaboration with Marta Salogni.

And as the year sheds its final calendrical leaves, he’s just released the timeless Eynhallow, working with Erased Tapes duodectet Shards.

We’ve embedded it for you below; it has all the Erland magic, the delicacy, the resonance of his islands, and also pulls off the incredibly neat trick of being seasonal, unplaceable in any period of time from now right back to the invention of plainsong; it’s practically candlelit.

Eynhallow is named after a mysterious holy island in Orkney, which was abandoned after suffering an epidemic in 1851. The island houses nothing but a ruined church, and for this collection Erland talks of “the choral music sung in this lost kirk to warm against the winds that shook it.”

He says of the collaboration with Shards: “I wanted to explore the intimacy of a quartet of voices between soprano, alto, tenor, bass and how wide and fragile that could be, pushing the depth of field in sound with less voices than a normal, larger scale choir.”

The recordings were made while socially distanced, but created with the hope that they can be performed live. This is something Erland has a very real vision of effecting: “The human voice is so harmonically rich and of course the oldest instrument and when I listen back to these pieces, I can’t help but imagine the four singers united together in Orkney’s St Magnus’ Cathedral.

“Perhaps one day soon, I’ll record and perform in that majestic, red stoned building that holds the memory of Orcadian poets Edwin Muir and George Mackay Brown.”

With a return to normality thankfully more than just an abstract notion, Erland has also some British tour dates for next year, which are as follows. Click through on the venue hypertext link for further details and tickets:

May 6th, 2021, Belfast, Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival;

May 26th and 27th, Edinburgh, Summerhall;

May 28th, Birmingham, St. Paul’s Church;

May 29th, Manchester, Hallé St Peter’s;

June 1st, Bristol, St George’s;

June 2nd, Canterbury, Gulbenkian Theatre;

June 3rd, Brighton, St. George’s Church, and

September 26th, Stroud, Hidden Notes.

Tickets are on sale now from: https://www.erlandcooper.com/ 

Some excellent further listening: you can catch up with Erland’s appearance with John Burnside on the Radio 4 programme Wild Music on iPlayer, here.

Hether Blether is now available on digital, CD and vinyl here; you can also follow Erland on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.