Erland Cooper – Hether Blether

The word ‘beautiful’ when used in the context of music, can often be an over used term that then leaves its meaning tainted with an expectation that becomes blurry and banal. But in the case of Erland Cooper and his new offering ‘Hether Blether‘ the last in his series of three musical tributes to his home of Orkney, the word well and truly fits as a descriptive measure of the music and its story.

Based around a mythical tale of a lost girl and island, the music plays out in a wholly sensory way, with a narrative that is sublime, unforgettable and deeply moving. Strings interlaced with an electronic heartbeat play alongside local sounds of nature scattered with glorious accents of native speakers. The poetic words of John Burnside fade in and out with the haunting song of a longing piano as a companion and on this album Erland adds some of his own vocals, letting his words speak out with a nakedness perfect for this trilogy.

Sitting and listening to this last piece of the musical triptych with your eyes closed is imperative in my book, because this is not background music, it is a masterful array of poignant musical storytelling, that breaks into the imagination with swirls of images carried on the note of a whisper, the sound of a gentle tide and the promise of unexpected whimsy.
I have never traveled to Orkney, but Cooper’s musical tribute and his undoubted love for the islands shines brightly throughout this and the previous two albums, giving me inspiration enough to make a special journey taking with me my headphones so I can listen to his heart myself.