Since his time leading Erland and the Carnival, and the Magnetic North, Scottish composer Gawain Erland Cooper has used his songwriting and playing prowess to create stunning sonic poetry. From growing up as one of six siblings to travelling from city to city, Cooper has used his life experiences to form his meticulousness, to create astonishingly beautiful progressive rock, shoegaze and art folk.
‘Solan Goose’ sees Cooper orchestrate with the world at his fingertips, or at least his piano at his fingertips. Frequenting the instrument throughout the 37-minute timespan of the record, Cooper shows off a hell of a lot of versatility when visiting and revisiting different atmospheres and moods.
‘Solan Goose’ is essentially a film score, but for a film that strangely embarks on putting multiple genres into practice. See the chilling piano melody of opening piece ‘Whitemaa’, a little something you could see being lovingly touted, up there with many a famous horror theme. Then there’s ‘Whaup’, blissful and Autumn-like with its wistful, windy backing and gentle piano twinkles, something similarly produced on the following track ‘Bonxie’.
‘Maalie’ packs an incredible amount of intensity into its duration, just under three minutes. It’s a minimal piece, one with light orchestral backing and occasional timpani, but with the focus still being on the piano and the occasional swooning violin notes, yet Cooper still manages to hammer home the grandest of crescendos, ascending in dramatics, somehow making this minimal piece of piano music sound like a massive, symphonic moment of grander.
Soft pieces like ‘Tammie Norie’ and the album’s title track make for some pleasant easy-listening, but they do lack the atmosphere that makes the bulk of ‘Solan Goose’ so impressive. The same can be said for closing piece ‘Moosiehaak’, simplistic in comparison, still lovely on its own merit, but quite bare.
At its most boastful, its most glorious, ‘Solan Goose’ is appealing, and wonderfully so. Unfortunately, the lesser, filler-esque pieces make for ditch water-dull transitions as you wait for the next big moment.
‘Solan Goose’ is out now via Phases. The track listing is as follows…