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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Merry Go Round, 25 Mar 2011
Gannon (Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nightingale (Audio CD)
What happens to the carnival when the lights go out? It's a question Orkney native Erland Cooper and his London-centric, folk-rock entourage try to answer here.

Nightingale, though darker, and perhaps more direct that the debut, is all the same a clear relation thereof. The band's injection of much-needed weird - crucial to credibility - as well as an appreciation for Nuggets-era 60s psyche remain. And, with seasoned ragamuffins Simon Tong - formerly multi-instrumentalist with The Verve, Gorillaz and The Good, The Bad & The Queen - and Paul McCartney's go-to drummer David Nock both still in tow, they again manage to steer clear of laughably inoffensive waters, such as those inhabited by Mumford & Sons, Leisure Society, and, to a certain extent, kindred spirits Mystery Jets.

Known for reworking traditional folk in a contemporary style, which musically translated as more organ, and socially as the substitution of age-old drama with current-day parallels, Cooper and his cohorts' formula previously provided Erland & The Carnival with varied levels of success. Thankfully, it was always the band's willingness to push the envelope on their original, thoughtful and sometime sinister material that truly caught the ear however.

With that in mind, not much has changed barely a year later on, except that Nightingale was recorded in the hull of the HMS President on the Thames, which does add a hushed creak, echo and chatter to the running order. Accordingly, "East & West" is fairly faithful folk, full of plucked progressions and minstrel-like musing. Equally, "Dream Of The Rood" comes weighted with history, weary from having been dredged through the centuries and thrust into the now. On the other hand, "Emmeline" creeps along like a windblown, shanty-cum-haunted-house-on-the-prairie, fairground-attraction soundtrack. Understandably, it's therefore pretty essential.

More linear are parts of "This Night", Cooper's croon and the track's stylised herky-jerk all a little Franz Ferdinand. Whereas, the title track shimmers and fizzes like some form of pastoral post-rock, and, in comparison, "So Tired In The Morning" is relatively beefy, organic in its message but bolstered with warm organ fuzz, embracing drums and swelling, skittish guitar. Also of note, "Map Of An Englishman" pops with intelligent hooks not unlike those employed by similarly-monikered Emanuel & The Fear on their pop-opera of an album Listen.

Just as those that have been aboard the President will no doubt have drunken in varying cultures and influences far and wide in their travels, so too does Nightingale, idling in few, bathing in some and down-right revelling in others.

Advised downloads: "Map Of An Englishman" and "Emmeline".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shapeshifting, 26 Aug 2012
This review is from: Nightingale (Audio CD)
The enigmatic photograph that adorns the cover of Nightingale is an unsettling and murky starting point for this album, that succeeds in capturing an essence of the album to come. It is a photo from the famous Enfield Poltergeist mystery and with this image we are invited into a strange world, or perhaps it's a glimpse of our world from a strange vantage point.

Erland And The Carnival weave together dazzling concoctions, some of their songs are like swirling vortices swallowing fragments of folk-song, psychedelia, industrial noise and gothic gloom, other songs are sparse and edged with tension or despondancy. Shapeshifting along their lengths, a kind of logic just about holds each song together, as E&TC build fantasies from found objects.

The folk music of the British Isles is fascinating to me and close to my heart, and hearing the results of this band's re-imaginings could perhaps have been unpalatable, but I find it a real delight, a freak wind blowing through a landscape and re-arranging things rather than destroying them. The band have an understanding of the tradition, but that element is just a starting point, they have embraced the way that the tradition has been pulled and pushed in various directions over the years, and they themselves have spied it through kaleidoscopes and crucially have not viewed folk-songs in isolation but as an element within a here and now world that is of course itself a mish-mash of countless elements from across time and place. The lyrics are alive, little scraps of folk-songs and fables and even a Carpenters song extended outwards in unexpected directions.

There is something about this approach that reminds me slightly of Blur, who similarly were building upon folklore in ways, following in the wake of Barrett-era Pink Floyd, Bowie, The Kinks and others, portraying a kind of British mythology of shipping forecasts and village greens and eccentric characters. Some of the songs however veer away from this and are perhaps partial self-portraits, with Erland singing with a weariness that echoes Damon Albarn. Two other bands that come to mind in regard to the musical backdrops of carnival and gothic drama are The Damned during their mid-80's goth/psychedelic period, and Miranda Sex Garden.

My favourite tracks include Emmeline, about a girl who vanishes "between two tall trees at the end of the green", Nightingale, East And West, one of the few with a recognizeably "folky" setting (I say that with a dash of irony: why should acoustic guitars be labelled folky anyway?) Wealldie, and The Trees They Grow So High, which works as a coda or sequel to the folk song of the same name. This is a very fine album, a cleverly organised chaos.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good album, 9 Aug 2011
J. Matthews "jonbonjela" (leeds uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nightingale (Audio CD)
somewhat quirky yet refreshing songwriting style with some great tunes and hooks makes for a brilliant second album - thoroughly recommended!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That shiver., 16 May 2012
This review is from: Nightingale (Audio CD)
Just buy this record. This band are simply fantastic. There is depth, mystery and melody here - and so much more besides. Erland's voice is otherworldly and the music is such a brew. I simply can not shake these songs from my thoughts. Such a rare rare find. Might appeal to fans of Richard Thompson or even Robyn Hitchcock Cherish them!! For God's sake!!
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Nightingale by Erland & The Carnival (Audio CD - 2011)
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