Album Review: The Magnetic North


The Magnetic North: ‘Orkney: Symphony of the Magnetic North’ (Full Time Hobby)

There are some PR press releases that arrive for albums that are so strange, bizarre -and just a tiny bit wonderful. One album like this was Bunny Boy by The Residents. Another is Orkney: Symphony of the Magnetic North.

The group consists Erland Cooper of Erland and The Carnival with band mate Simon Tong and singer/orchestral arranger Hannah Peel. Also involved was Kevin McKormack, also known as Half Cousin. But it’s perhaps the Genesis of the album that is the most strange and unusual and who else is purported to be involved (and no, not another Scottish indie-folker).

As the press release puts it, “When someone comes to you in a dream and tells you to make an album about your homeland – the Orkney islands – would you disregard it? Especially when that someone is Betty Corrigall, the Orcadian girl who in the 1770’s killed herself having been cast out by her village after becoming pregnant by a visiting sailor?”

“Well, would you?” Reportedly the ghost of Ms. Corrigall was quite clear about what she wanted Erland and co. to do. This included handing him a list of track names based on places in Orkney – the beaches Rackwick and Warbeth, the sea port of Stromness, the rock formation Old man of Hoy, for example and even playing him some snippets from the finished album.

At this point in history, we cannot record dreams in visual form, although it does make you wonder. What is lcear, is that this is one almighty God damn amazing album. Beautiful, melancholic and compelling, perhaps the truth of how the album came into being is so wonderful that maybe we should cast aside any cynicism we might have and enjoy this album for hat it is.

I have yet to make it to Orkney. Hell, I moved to Scotland over a decade ago and I have yet to make it to Inverness. But what I do know is that this album may not only have come from strange places but takes you to amazing ones as well.

This album is certain to become a cult classic. This is one cult I would heartily recommend getting involved in.


Orkney: Symphony of the Magnetic North is out now on Full Time Hobby.

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