PHOTO CREDIT: ALEX KOZOBOLIS
UK TOUR // SEPTEMBER 2023
NEW ALBUM FOLDED LANDSCAPES // OUT NOW
“For the premiere with the Scottish Ensemble, to open the show I’d designed an 8ft ice sculpture that would thaw throughout the duration of the concert. As the theatre and audience gradually warmed from 16 degrees to 26 degrees, so too the music thawed with the installation. For this tour, I will play a mix of new and old repertoire, including some of my Orkney songs. I’ll be accompanied by a group of exceptional multi-instrumentalists and instead of an ice sculpture opening the show, Midori Jaeger will take to the stage.” ERLAND COOPER
Groundbreaking composer and producer ERLAND COOPER has announced a full UK tour for September following the recent release of his new album, Folded Landscapes. The album is an urgent observation on themes of climate change, temperature and time and features the voices of activist Greta Thunberg, poet laureate Simon Armitage and multi-award-winning conservationist and author Dara McAnulty.
Sun 17 NORWICH Arts Centre
Mon 18 BRIGHTON Komedia
Tue 19 BRISTOL Redgrave Theatre
Wed 20 MANCHESTER Stoller Hall
Thu 21 LEEDS Left Bank
Fri 22 GATESHEAD Sage
Sat 23 ABERDEEN Music Hall
Sun 24 LANCASTER Library
Tue 26 HEBDEN BRIDGE Trades Club
For the tour, Erland Cooper will be playing music from his new album along with existing repertoire from his famed Orkney songs. Tickets available from: www.erlandcooper.com
Folded Landscapes sees Cooper work through the lens of urgent observations surrounding climate change and his inherent belief in the need to come together and take positive action, creating a potent, experimental new work. Using drastic temperature changes – from sub-zero to the hottest on record – he developed music for string ensembles, piano, voice, harpsichord, electronics and field recordings, including the Californian wildfires and crashing glaciers. While the resulting album takes the subject matter as its underlying theme, it works ultimately as an opportunity to celebrate and cherish the natural world. Out of the doom and gloom, hope and beauty bloom.
In early 2022, Cooper began a collaboration with the Scottish Ensemble, a collective of pioneering musicians crossing art forms to champion music for strings, to merge music with evocative storytelling and conceptual art, pushing his connection to the environment further into unchartered realms.
In a gentle act of patience, Cooper recently staged a slow protest surrounding the narrative of climate change by remaining beside an 8ft tall monolithic ice sculpture for over 12 hours, observing as the structure melted, to engage with the project’s themes of the natural world, time, temperature and the slow violence of change. The event was a prelude to three sold-out London Barbican shows.
While he wishes to inspire the audience to consider their role in climate change and the natural environment, no finger-pointing is intended. “I hope it’s more a feeling of inward reflection,” he says. “How can I waste less and value more? What tiny thing can I do?”
For the early movements of Folded Landscapes, the Scottish Ensemble were recorded in sub-zero temperatures in an old industrial factory in Glasgow in winter, the punishing conditions mirroring the iciness of the music. By the sixth movement, Cooper slowly ramped up the temperature in Edinburgh’s Castle Studio, mimicking a great thawing process. Listen to the final movement and, while the heart warms to the uplifting music, there’s a vulnerability that you can’t quite place your finger on. Cooper had purposefully left the recorded audio on quarter inch tape bathing on his London studio roof on the hottest day ever recorded in the UK: 40.9C in July 2022.
The heat, moisture, salt and sunlight worked their way into the fabric of the tape so, throughout the album as the music arguably becomes more enjoyable, the underbelly is that it has much less fidelity, tarnished by burning with crackles and pops creeping up surreptitiously.
Acting in some way as a poetic navigator, an extremely moving addition to the album comes from Simon Armitage, who offered up some poems which Cooper immediately put to melody.
“It was a natural fit,” says Armitage. “Erland is a poet who works with the language of music, and finding and folding words into the landscapes of his compositions was a near-spontaneous happening. If geology could speak its dreams, if geography could sing in its sleep, this is what it would sound like.”
A percentage of the copyright share of the album has been given to Brian Eno’s EarthPercent charity as a beautiful way of embedding the planet as a stakeholder in musical creativity and raising money for climate and environmental organisations. The Earth’s share of the songs – and its income – is directed to EarthPercent to redistribute to organisations tackling the climate crisis.
Download, stream and order the full album here: https://erlandcooper.lnk.to/FoldedLandscapes
“Erland Cooper is never one to do things by halves. This project, recorded in extremes of temperature, is a disarmingly beautiful love letter to the planet and a wakeup call to action with poetry, gorgeous swathes of strings and field recordings. It’s all thrillingly affective.” BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE *****