Hello and welcome to my Sunday Review. Every week I read great wildlife and nature books, see engrossing websites and hear wonderful new music – this is my chance to bring you all the best I’ve experienced – every Sunday.
If it’s folk, or independent, or about wildlife, nature or Orkney, I may love it, and so may you.
Sule Skerry – Erland Cooper
Sule Skerry by Erland Cooper is a masterpiece. I’ve had such a thrill listening to it over the summer while I’ve been in Orkney. It’s sensitive, bombastic, idiosyncratic, pop, orchestral, silly and serious all at once. It’s music that could only have been made by Erland Cooper.
Erland Cooper has created a journey through Orkney by air, land and sea mixing dialect with electronics and orchestration in his Orkney Triptych of albums: Solan Goose, Sule Skerry and Hether Blether. I reviewed Solan Goose in The Hall of Einar Sunday Review #14.
I bought the vinyl issue and now, here in Devon, I’m able to sit comfortably in an armchair and let it flow over me.
From the opening bars of the sensitive Haar, a sea fog which often envelops Orkney’s islands, you know you’re in for a treat. Erland Cooper is a composer who knows exactly when to bring the next instrument in, when to start a counter-melody, and when to mix voice with instrumentation. It’s delicate, haunting and moreish. There’s drama aplenty. When First of the Tide begins, the pace quickens and the repetition of phrases is hypnotic with a sung/spoken section that is beautifully expressed. From there? It just gets better. The resonance of the deep percussion and the emotional high vocals give the music a huge dynamic range. Can you tell I love it yet?
First of the Tide
Sule Skerry is a real place. It’s the place that traditional folk ballad The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry was written about. It’s over thirty miles west of Orkney. I’ve wanted to go there for years and now Erland Cooper’s music has transported me there.
Erland Cooper can be seen live from the Barbican on Saturday 10 Oct 2020, at 20:00, either in-person or online. Fancy joining?
His layered strings, piano, field recordings and electronics, performed by Cooper and his nest of musicians along with a small cluster of players from the London Contemporary Orchestra, seamlessly form one audio-visual piece with footage and imagery from Erland’s artistic partner Alex Kozobolis for a truly surrounding experience.
Run Wild – Magazine
Run Wild magazine describes itself as ‘Post-consumer recycled paper. 128 beautiful pages. Climate neutral.’ So much of the worthiness and virtue signalling. What’s it like as a magazine? The answer is interesting and engaging and full of revealing thoughts and places.
I’m only just reading Issue 2, since stocking up on magazines in Manchester’s Magma bookshop. They’re now onto Issue 4. Issue 2 is beautifully designed, with an great eye for space and typography. The images are given space to breathe without being orphaned and the text is tidy and readable. After all, that is, sort of, the point.
Sometimes the words are quite short pieces leaving you longing for more. Who are these people? What is their business there? What else did they experience? What made them feel that way? It’s tantalising but in a good way.
I very much enjoyed the Italian Cave Dreams about visiting Matera. We’ve been to Matera several times and had wonderful experiences exploring the ancient city, the Sassi, the rock caves inhabited for thousands of years, and the surrounding countryside:
Anyone who cycles through the south of Italy, catches a ferry to Albania and then stashes the bikes to ride horses for 600km has a sense of adventure, I think.
One of the best ways of judging a magazine about places and people is to ask: If I’ve been there, does it ring true? and if I haven’t been there would I want to go? With Run Wild, that’s certainly the case. After reading this, I definitely want to run in Mt Fuji’s shadow.
One of the good things about the magazine is that it has respect for the photographs. The only photographs which have text on them are the article headings. Everything else is presented in full, uncropped and unmolested by text. There are no strange shaped photographs with nauseating text boxes insulting the photographer here. It’s clean, unfussy layout is a treat.
Run Wild? It does.
Subscriptions to Run Wild can be made here.
Time for me to turn the vinyl over and play side two of Sule Skerry new.
That’s it for this week. I’ll be back with more reviews of things you might adore next Sunday. In the meantime, I wish you a great week. Keep safe, everyone.