Listen to music from tape buried underground by Orkney composer

All digital copies of works were erased while works were erased while they were below ground and ‘altered by soil’

The first two singles of a tape that survived being buried underground have been released by a composer to coincide with the summer solstice.

Erland Cooper, 39, from Orkney, has released the first two tracks from his upcoming Carve The Runes Then Be Content With Silence album, which will launch in full on September 20, just ahead of the autumn equinox.

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The musician buried the tape in Orkney three years ago and erased all digital copies while it was underground, running the risk of losing his songs forever.

The audio survived but was altered by the soil, with the artist crediting the earth for helping him “co-compose” the record.

He says the idea was for his music to be planted in order to “grow” into something more.

One of the released tracks, With Silence (Mvt. 3) – Pt. 2, utilises a lone violin, a cello and a soloist.

The other, With Silence (Mvt. 3) – Pt. 1, is a memorial piece that includes a two-minute silence.

Cooper says the silence symbolises what could have happened if the tape did not survive the burial.

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The tape was buried in May 2021 near his childhood home in Orkney, along with the sheet music.

He left a trail for anyone to search for it, issuing a map with extra clues released every equinox and solstice.

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The tape was found in September 2022 by Orkney residents Victoria and Dan Rhodes, who planned a holiday around the unusual quest.

Cooper’s record label, Mercury KX/Decca, supported the idea from the start.

Tom Lewis, the label’s co-president, said: “I think the music industry is crying out louder than ever for true originals, and I think Erland really is a true original.

“The risk was paying for a recording that was digitally deleted, that was on tape and being eaten up by whatever is in the soil.”

Cooper said: “I write music inspired by the natural world. In particular, the birds in the sky and the soil and landscape of the Orkney Islands.

“The idea for this project is that really I’m just sharing my process with the natural world. It’s a mediation on time, on patience, on value, and art itself.

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“To reveal we now have music, in all forms of sound and colour, means we can now celebrate nature’s wild contribution to composition, as a sort of collaborative act of resilience or survival of the arts and nature alike.”

A composition by Cooper was selected to be part of the celebrations for the late Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

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His soundtrack Music For Growing Flowers accompanied millions of flowers which were planted in the Tower of London’s moat.

He has released four studio albums, with four additional companion albums and multiple EPs, including a trilogy of work inspired by his childhood home.

His work combines field recordings with classical orchestration and contemporary electronic elements.

He is a recipient of a Royal Television Society award and his music is played frequently on BBC Radio 3 and BBC Radio 6 Music.



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