Erland Cooper – Sule Skerry review

Secret Meeting score: 80

by Joseph Purcell

Ambient music has continued to flourish in recent years, and Erland Cooper has used the inspiration of his homeland, Orkney to create a glorious reimagining on Sule Skerry.

Cooper strives to paint the picture that he ultimately wishes to convey to the listener- “It’s a record about the sea, our relationship with the outside world, forces outside of our control but it’s also about creating a nest within that, nurturing and protecting our own sea havens, those sheltered bays, those safe places, as we step in and out, always returning back in some form”

Haar carries a highland wistfulness through its opening echoes, while in contrast, Groatie Buckies and Creels crash amongst a wave of glorious highs and confounding lows, as they exude a cacophonous barrage of tranquillity.

The real gems at the heart of Sule Skerry are Cooper’s spoken interludes, which weave in and out. Made more vital by the regional dialect in which they are delivered, the tone of the words fall effortlessly into place – and feel authentic due to the locality being such a key inspiration throughout Sule Skerry. On Flattie, Cooper also enlists the help of BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer of The Year, Kris Drever, and Kathryn Joseph on an imposing centre point – with Drever reciting the evocative poetry of Will Burns, which was written especially for the album.

Cooper has instilled his own voice in a genre where it is easy to become be lost. Sule Skerry is a definite step forward in search of Cooper’s vision and, as his discipline and sound develops, he has given us a tremendous album in which to fully immerse.

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