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Erland is Erland Cooper, guitarist, singer and former resident of remote Orkney. The Carnival are guitarist Simon Tong (The Verve, The Good, The Bad, The Queen) and drummer David Nock (Paul McCartney’s The Fireman). Together, they make a pastoral, psychedelic sound described by Tong as “Pentangle meets Ennio Morricone meets Love meets 13th Floor Elevators meets Joe Meek.” In other words: folk-tinged, psyched up, fuzzed-out brilliance.

Their self-titled debut album was recorded at Studio 13 (owned by Tong’s The Good, The Bad, The Queen band mate Damon Albarn), overdubbed in Simon’s attic and Erland’s shed and mixed at the garden studio owned by renowned producer Youth. Keys/harmonium player Andy Bruce, vocalist Georgia Sands and bassist Danny Wheeler also appear.

An early contender for debut album of 2010, this astonishing record finds the band plundering all kind of literary and musical sources. In the grand folk tradition, The Carnival see source material as something to be adapted, tinkered with, updated and blown apart.

Opening track Love Is A Killing Thing is a based on a traditional folk song collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams but updated with a new bridge and a chorus from a Seeger/MacColl song. The Derby Ram is another traditional song but greatly overhauled from its original subject matter. Originally about a giant fictional sheep, it now details a true (and truly modern) story about a recent suicide in which the jumper was filmed on mobile phones by the crowd on the ground. Elsewhere, William Blake (The Echoing Green) and Leonard Cohen (Disturbed In The Morning) provide the words.

Some history: Erland grew up on the Orkney Islands, where passing musicians and troubadors were a common sight. In his early teens, The Verve and Bert Jansch inspired him to swap the fiddle for the guitar. Later, having moved to London, Erland sang at Tong’s What The Folk club night in Portobello Road, where he was introduced to the former Verve man by the producer Youth. “It wasn’t a regular folk night where people are quiet and stroke their chin,” says Tong. “It was a more raucous affair where the acts – as many as 15 a night – had to quieten a noisy baying audience by being good. Erland definitely got people to shut up and listen.”

Resolving to form a band, Nock, Tong and Cooper took their name from Jackson C Frank’s My Name Is Carnival, a cover of which appears on the album. The band’s progression since has been fairly unorthodox: they’ve played gigs at miniature railway stations and their debut EP was individually re-recorded for each of its limited run, meaning no two copies are the same. All the while, they’ve been developing that bewitching sound.

“The Carnival sound developed dramatically over a year of playing and demo-ing,” says Tong. “Originally we were more acoustic but gradually have got darker and more electric and psychedelic. There is a 1930’s book called The Circus of Dr Lao where a wild, fantastical travelling circus comes to a fictional small American mid west town causing social chaos and upsetting the usual way of life of the towns inhabitants, then eventually it leaves and moves on with the town in tatters. I see that as a good metaphor for us as a band to aim for.”