Hello and welcome to my Sunday Review. Thanks for joining me. Every week I read great wildlife and nature books, stumble upon engrossing websites and hear wonderful new music. This is my chance to bring you carefully curated reviews of 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.
Hether Blether – Erland Cooper
Hether Blether by Erland Cooper is the third and final album in a trilogy of releases shaped by where he grew up in Orkney. Erland Cooper is a contemporary composer and multi-instrumentalist with a varied musical career and talented friends aplenty. I reviewed 2018’s Solan Goose in Sunday Review 14, which explored the birdlife of Orkney, and 2019’s Sule Skerry in Sunday Review 18, which explored our relationship with the sea. In Hether Blether his inspiration is the land, expressed in an immersive collection of music, spoken word and songs.
Hether Blether is calming, contemplative and beautiful music. It’s an atmospheric journey around the Orkney Islands. Here’s the first track, Noup Head:
A limited edition copy of the vinyl from the excellent Dinked came with a fold-out Orkney map and guide, which is still available separately from his Bandcamp site. I enjoy the playfulness of his titles; Peedie Breeks, for instance, means short trousers.
It also has variety, with percussion giving some tracks a clear groove. Here’s the excellent Linga Holm:
Erland Cooper will be on tour in 2021, Covid-permitting, so do see if one of his concerts is nearby or plan a special journey if it’s safe by then. It’ll be a beautiful, emotional evening.
Given all that’s happening in the world, Hether Blether is a blessed relief.
Naturally Orkney Vol.2 – Raymond Besant
Raymond Besant is a freelance long-lens wildlife cameraman and photographer from the Orkney Islands. I reviewed the first in his wonderful series of Naturally Orkney books in Sunday Review 1.
Volume 2, subtitled Coastline, is even better. The printing of the images is crisper and brighter and the natural images captured even more engaging. There’s a sensitive mix of ultra-closeups with environmental shots which works to give a real sense of the coastal landscape. This bridled Guillemot is a great example.
The book is structured around a calendar year. Here’s April:
The near and far structure works exceptionally well in most cases, although some are unrelated to one another:
The images are powerful and many prove the most important part of any landscape or wildlife photographer’s equipment-list is an alarm clock.
As an acceptance of reality there’s a black section at the back showing the effects of marine pollution.
The whole book is a triumph, with wild and powerful images and an unobtrusive but continually on-point text. It’s well worth treating yourself to. It’s available in The Orcadian bookshop.
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.