Switched On – Erland Cooper: Music for Growing Flowers (Mercury KX)

by Ben Hogwood

What’s the story?

Once again the Tower of London has played host to a major project honouring Queen Elizabeth II. This one, entitled Superbloom, is an installation running from June to September. It is named after a rare phenomenon that occurs only once every few decades, where whole landscapes can become carpeted with flowers thanks to favourable weather and the activation of previously dormant seeds.

Twenty million seeds were sown at the Tower in spring, and are expected to flower through until September, with colours and patterns set to change each day as you would anticipate in the wild. Accompanying this gradual change will be the music of Erland Cooper, who releases the first ‘side’ of Music For Growing Flowers to coincide with the Jubilee itself. The second ‘side’ – and complete LP – will be released in August.

What’s the music like?

As everything above implies, the music is deeply ambient, thoughtful and incredibly restful. It is ideal when experienced either end of the day or in the middle of a particularly busy pattern of events, where it is most effective as it would be at the Tower, right in the middle of the City of London.

Set in a pure C major, it begins with warm drones that act as a supportive bed to the more primitive evocations of bloom, which evolve slowly but sure. When the third part of four is reached the flowering is depicted through warm cello (Clare O’Connell), bright violin (Daniel Pioro), sonorous harp (Olivia Jageurs) and otherworldly voice (Josephine Stephenson)

The last of the four parts hangs on the air beautifully, pinned on a pure harmony, and the cello line takes hold again, its breathy tones lovingly sculpted by O’Connell.

Does it all work?

Yes – Cooper has a gift for stopping time in even the busiest scenario, so do put this on when you’re at the busiest point of the day. I guarantee your wears and cares will be realigned!

Is it recommended?

Without hesitation. A beautiful and timeless piece of music, providing surprisingly sharp perspective from its slow-moving ambience.



There are several options for purchasing and streaming Music for Growing Flowers, which you can explore here