Erland & The Carnival - Closing Time
When unassuming young Orkney music-maker Erland Cooper picked up his guitar and travelled the length of the country to play a show in London’s Notting Hill, little did he know that a chance encounter with musical veteran Simon Tong (The Verve, The Good The Bad & The Queen, Gorillaz) would be the start of a unique songwriting friendship. Together they formed Erland & The Carnival and now, nearly a decade later, arrives ‘Closing Time’, the band’s third, most accomplished album yet.
Opening a new chapter, ‘Closing Time’ is an understated, inward looking collection of songs that feature stunning string arrangements and Erland’s impassioned vocals at centre stage. Rather than the modern folk adaptations of traditional songs, children’s poems and ancient literature on the band’s earlier albums or the pair’s recent conceptual folklore project The Magnetic North, this time the band tell tales of a more personal nature. “Previously we didn’t know what we wanted to say or how to say it and would use stories and direct references to help us get to a place we could feel secure,” admits Simon. Erland adds; “in making this record we discarded an album’s worth of material that sounded like the first two albums. We wanted to make something different - doing another Jackson C Frank cover wasn’t an option.”
Closing Time is the very first time the listener can truly hear the wholly collaborative process that is Erland & The Carnival. Lyrical and musical duties have always been shared, yet here the combined creativity of the pair’s working friendship is only solidified with Erland taking a more ‘hands on’ approach to production and the strings, brought about by the album’s unashamed twisted and selfish love song ‘Quiet Love’, scored by Simon before being recorded by a quartet in his living room one afternoon.
Recorded in Damon Albarn’s studio13 with previous Erland & The Carnival engineer Steve Sedgewick and mixed by London Grammar producer Tim Bran, despite creating more than 40 songs in the process of writing the album (“Some of the song melodies and ideas on this may have even been written when I was 21 to be honest. ‘Sometimes’ certainly was,” admits Erland), it was a brilliantly spontaneous and productive time taking just over 3 days to come to fruition. “We learnt to be incredibly disciplined” tells Simon. “It feels like pruning a tree - when you cut away the needless and weaker branches, what you get is something much fresher and stronger coming through.”