Erland Cooper releases a new album, ‘Hether Blether’ – the third and final album in his “Orkney Trilogy” of releases themed around his childhood home – via Phases.

Available digitally and on standard and limited edition CD and vinyl, the 10 track long-player features new poetry by John Burnside, written after a trip to Orkney with Cooper (and documented on the BBC Radio 4 programme, Wild Music).

There are also spoken word contributions from Kathryn Joseph, and ambient tape and modular synth work from Hiroshi Ebina.

The release, Cooper freely admits, is inspired by Orcadian poet George Mackay Brown, as well as filmmaker Margaret Tait and composer Peter Maxwell Davies. It takes its name from a hidden island in folklore, said to rise green and fertile from time to time from the foam.

The triptych is also something of a concept piece – covering Orkney birdlife (2018’s ‘Solan Goose’), the sea (on ‘Sule Skerry’, from 2019) and, on ‘Hether Blether’, teh Stromness-born multi-instrumentalist turns his attention to the land and its people.

The 10 song titles are taken from local dialect and nod to the places and stories of the island (‘Noup Head’, ‘Rousay’, ‘Longhope’) as well as the people themselves (‘Peedie Breeks’, which translates as “children”).

This latest album also sees Cooper’s voice come more to the fore – ‘Solan Goose’ didn’t feature his vocals at all; while the composer’s voice only appeared briefly on ‘Sule Skerry’.

‘Hether Blether’, which also weaves elements of its two predecessors, may be the final part in this ode to his home, but the Orcadian says he isn’t leaving his homeland behind. “It’s still with me,” he says. “I’m only just coming to terms with where it’s taken me – from a place of necessary escape, to a very different world.”

Cooper recently unveiled a specially created piece featuring over 300 field recordings sent in to Chris Hawkins’ BBC 6Music programme. The field recordings, all sounds listeners had noticed since lockdown began, appear on ‘A Nightingale Sings Outside Our Window’ alongside the voice of Florence Nightingale, Galya Bisengalieva (Solo Violin), Robert Ames (Solo Viola) and Paul Weller: –

To accompany the album, Cooper is also making a children’s sheet music book for beginner to intermediate, piano, violin and recorder called ‘Fledgling’, and using pictures from a local school on the island, local artists, as well as contributions from nature writers and will be released later in the year.

‘Hether Blether’ tracklisting:
Noup Head
Peedie Breeks
Linga Holm
Hether Blether
Where I Am Is Here

Unfortunately a show with London Contemporary Orchestra at The Barbican on 13th June is off, but a string of September shows are still in the diary:

24 Sep – Manchester, Hallé St Peter’s
25 Sep – Leeds, Leeds College of Music
26 Sep – Birmingham, St. Paul’s Church
27 Sep – Stroud, St. Laurence’s Church – Hidden Notes Festival
28 Sep – Edinburgh, Summerhall
29 Sep – Edinburgh, Summerhall
30 Sep – Bristol, St. George’s Bristol
1 Oct – Brighton, St. George’s Church
2 Oct – Canterbury, Gulbenkian Theatre

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