15 Songs, 1 Hour


About Magnetic North

When the vision of Betty Corrigall — an abandoned and pregnant-out-of-wedlock resident of Orkney who hung herself in the late 1770s — came to Erland Cooper in a dream in early 2011, he set about bringing together fellow Erland & the Carnival member Simon Tong (the Verve, the Good, the Bad and the Queen) and Irish singer/songwriter Hannah Peel to form the Magnetic North and write an album dedicated to the isles that Cooper had grown up on. Decamping to Stromness, the trio set about recording the album at Cooper's parents' house, taking inspiration from the islands' history of folk music, poetry, and the harsh and beautiful landscape. The resulting Orkney: Symphony of the Magnetic North was released in 2012 on Full Time Hobby. After the success of the album and subsequent tours, the trio reconvened in 2015 to record their sophomore album, after focusing on each of their own projects. This time around, Peel suggested looking at the town where Tong grew up, Skelmersdale. Built in 1961 during the second wave of the post-war housing boom in the U.K., the "new" town eventually saw its decline in the '80s until the Transcendental Meditation movement decided to base themselves there, bringing families — including Tong's own — from across the country to live and spread their message of peace and love. After scrapping a huge amount of material, the trio went back to the drawing board, eventually returning with the album Prospect of Skelmersdale. Taking inspiration once again from the surrounding locations — and the Transcendental Meditation movement — the release drew more on the greys of working-class suburban Britain, evoking images of Ken Loach's Kes and Mike Leigh's kitchen dramas. Prospect of Skelmersdale was released at the beginning of 2016.

January, 2011