Release Date: Mar 29, 2011
Record label: Yep Roc
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
English guitarist Simon Tong (the Verve, Blur, the Good, the Bad & the Queen), Scottish singer/guitarist Gawain Erland Cooper, and Welsh drummer David Nock's second outing under the Erland and the Carnival banner was fittingly recorded in the belly of a ship moored on the river Thames. Like the trio’s eerie, 2010, eponymous debut, 2011's Nightingale feels like a relic that’s been spruced up, remixed, and then planted back in the earth for some future generation to stumble upon, crack open, and germinate a scene with. Like a modern-day danceable version of the Incredible String Band, the group takes traditional folk music and then filters it through the swirling psych rock of Piper at the Gates of Dawn-era Pink FLoyd, the electro-freak folk of Animal Collective, and the pastoral creep of bands Espers and Vetiver, resulting in a wild pastiche of digital trickery and oral tradition that channels the spirit of '70s progressive rock while staying true to pop-song brevity.
Just over a year after the release of their self-titled debut, Orcadian singer Erland Cooper and his two man Carnival of Simon Tong (The Verve/The Good, The Bad and The Queen/Gorillaz) and David Nock (Macca's The Fireman) return with follow-up Nightingale. On that first outing, their playfully sinister 'freak-folk' was accessible, yet the antithesis of the kind of inoffensive banjo-bluster of the likes of Mumford and Sons. Nonetheless, according to Nock the group have taken on criticisms that they 'were taking really old folk into the Seventies'.
Only a year after their eerie, enchanting debut, Orcadian [from the Orkney Isles, southern heathens] [b]Erland Cooper[/b] and his merry troupe (including former [a]The Verve[/a] guitarist [b]Simon Tong[/b]) are back with an even richer and stranger bag of tricks, this time recorded in the bowels of a boat in the Thames. More magpies than nightingales across these 13 tracks, they stitch up a glorious grab-bag of modern psych; fans of [a]The Superimposers[/a], [a]The Coral[/a], [a]Jim Noir[/a] or [a]Gruff Rhys[/a] will find much to love down the footpaths forged between these points. Magpie-like too, Cooper has a love of repurposing weighty lines to frame his quirky nests, as on “[i]This night has opened my eyes[/i]” on [b]‘This Night’[/b]’s cathedral-rave-folk-meets-Franz skiffle or “[i]Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen[/i]” on [b]‘I’m Not Really Here’[/b], or indeed [b]‘The Dream Of The Rood’[/b], based around the Old English visionary poem of the same name.
Scottish upstarts fete the Carpenters, French pop, everything else in the world “I’m Not Ready Here,” a standout track from Erland & the Carnival’s second album, Nightingale, opens with a few lines that should strike many listeners as instantly familiar, albeit somewhat off. “Far away, and so long ago,” sings Gawain Erland Cooper, “I slipped into your dreams before the refrain. ” The Scottish singer-songwriter is obviously misquoting the Carpenters’ “Superstar,” and on the chorus he repurposes the old spiritual refrain, “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen / nobody knows my sorrow.
Recorded in the bowels of HMS President, a first world war ship moored on the Thames, and with lyrics inspired by TS Eliot, the Egyptian Book of the Dead and Dream of the Rood (one of the oldest known poems in English), Nightingale is an album gloriously in thrall to the past. Unlike, say, Mumford & Sons, however, trio Erland and the Carnival's particular strand of musical nostalgia is augmented by playful analogue keyboard riffs (the sparkling I Wish, I Wish), off-kilter time signatures (the mushrooming title track) and an urge to experiment within set musical parameters. There's much to admire – Map of an Englishman's deliriously catchy vocal harmonies, The Night's rock hoedown, The Trees They Grow So High's near-pagan dance finale, for example – but it always feels slightly out of reach, at least in terms of an emotional connection.
There is nothing ordinary about Erland Cooper and his Carnival. Cooper hails from Orkney, a remote, sparsely populated archipelago just off the northern coast of Scotland with a strong tradition of Norse-originated folklore. Nightingale, an album of British folk-inflected tales, reflects a very specific, very regional flair for the curious. To wit: Cooper, along with former Verve and the Good, the Bad & the Queen guitarist Simon Tong, chose to record the album live, in the belly of an old warship-turned-cruise liner-turned-one-time pirate radio hub moored along the banks of the Thames in London.
Soothsayer lyricism atop sinister guitars and eldritch electronics. Paul Clarke 2011 Although the closest most have probably come to one is winning a goldfish from a coconut shy, the idea of the carnival continues to fire the imaginations of modern musicians. Of course, the name this group – consisting of Orcadian singer Erland Cooper, Gorillaz and ex-The Verve guitarist Simon Tong and Paul McCartney and David Gilmour’s sometime drummer-of-choice David Nock – chose made the fact they’d pitched up in the same territory that’s inspired Nick Cave’s The Carny and Pink’s Funhouse – to name two wildly different examples – plain enough.