Solan Goose

Erland Cooper was the bandleader of acclaimed outfits The Magnetic North and Erland & The Carnival. Having grown up on the Scottish archipelago of Orkney, his debut solo project began as a gentle response to ease an anxiety and claustrophobia of working in a large city. Exploring a balance between alternative, ambient, electronic and classical music, he set out to create a sense of balance and calm for both him and the listener, while connecting identity, memory and place through music and cinematography.

Rich in folklore, music, myth and mythology, Orkney also has strong Scandinavian influences that are echoed and layered throughout the arrangements.

The first single has been championed by Mary Anne Hobbs at BBC 6Music - Maalie takes its name from the local Orcadian dialect for the gull-like Fulmar, a grey and white seabird that's related to the albatross. The track features predominately Minimoog and piano by Erland with Hardanger violin and soprano performed by Charlotte Greenhow, as well as ambient guitar from Leo Abrahams. The album was mixed live at Real World Studios.

“For the most part, each of the songs on the album generally started as an improvised piece, recording piano alone in peace or perhaps writing over an ambient layer, created out of experimenting with a new sound or signal chain, usually an analogue synth (Juno60, Jupiter4 or perhaps just a Casio sampler or guitar noise) fed through echo which can generally dictate the key for the piano and melody to come. Sometimes, it’s good to start from nothing. I always find that something will come and if it doesn’t, my head is thinking too deeply about other more practical things. If a melody arrives and then I forget it, I’m confident another will drop in to replace it, or it will come back bolder and stronger. Sometimes just silence and the soft felt hammers from the piano, after a period of loud noise from outside, were enough to write but other times, experimental layers with their unplanned harmonics were better. Something new, that wouldn’t have come in to being any other way, can arrive.” Erland Cooper

Explaining the process of ‘Live mixing’ at Real World Studios

Engineer Oli Jacobs explains how Solan Goose was mixed:

“Having just finished working together with Hannah Peel on her album ‘Mary Casio: Journey To Cassiopeia’, Erland and I set about mixing his debut solo album in the Big Room at Real World. Erland and his team had already got the album to a really strong point sonically with a lot of soundscapes, helped by the beautiful effects created with Leo Abrahams. The monitor mixes were also in a strong place, so we were really doing the last 10% of the work in the studio.

If you can imagine two slightly geeky people sat behind an oversized SSL console, batting ideas back and forth, experimenting with different crazy effects while listening very intently, that’s basically what happened for a couple of days. Less time staring at ProTools, more time playing with gear and feeling our way through the music with manual rides on the faders as we went. ‘Solan Goose’ was mixed without automation, plugins or even the ability to recall the mix again. Once we printed it, we moved on! It’s rare you get to mix like that. We made decisions quickly and stuck to ideas when we decided they were good. And above all, we had fun!

We’re both firm believers that if you trust your listening environment and the artist that you are working with, there is no reason not to mix in the ‘old-school’ way. If a record can make the hairs on the back of your arm stand up in one of the best studios in the world, then we hope it will do the same for the listeners at home.’

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