Guernsey Press

Composer releases two singles from tape buried underground

Erland Cooper buried the tape in Orkney three years ago and erased all digital copies.


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.

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.

Erland Cooper, with half his face hidden by the tape
Erland Cooper has now released two of the singles from the buried tape (Samuel Davies/PA)

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.

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.

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.”

Erland Cooper holding the tape
Erland Cooper holds his upcoming album, which survived being buried on Orkney (Samuel Davies/PA)

“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.

“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.

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

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