Orkney Symphony of the Magnetic North


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 1770s killed herself having been cast out by her village after becoming pregnant by a visiting sailor?

That’s the kind of thing that appeals to Whistlesinthewind’s fondness for Hardy-ish doom and keenness for any windswept landscape, but I’m more interested because I discovered Hannah Peel supporting Erland and the Carnival live last year, so this record combining the talents of both is doubly interesting.

Hannah Peel uses a music box on many of her songs, lending them an eerily contemporary yet folkish Victorian shiver. When there are so many folky singer-songwriters around at the moment, wearing antlers or hare masks [insert your wild animal of choice – I mean, what’s next, badger droppings?] I think she’s a proper talent to watch (and so is Erland Cooper).

Peel’s unassuming demeanour would seem to conceal a well-strung bow of talents so it’s no surprise that her credits on Orkney Symphony include orchestral arranger. I read an interview where she said people wouldn’t expect Ennio Morricone to be an influence, but this comes out here to brilliant effect.

More about Magnetic North here.

More of Erland Cooper’s music is here at Erland and the Carnival.

More about Hannah Peel here. Unfortunately this last Youtube video has a horrible Macdonald’s advert at the beginning so you might want to mute sound and sit in total darkness for 30 seconds until it has passed…


3 thoughts on “Orkney Symphony of the Magnetic North

  1. Wonderful! I love the haunting, Hardy-ish feel to the songs and their relationship to place and landscape. You’ve caught the effect of the music box so well in your words -‘an eerily contemporary yet folkish Victorian shiver’ – is exactly it! It’s lovely to discover new music like this – thanks for your great introduction. (Macdonalds had done a runner when I watched the second video – pushed aside by a baby advertising nappies!)

  2. I had actually read about The Magnetic North but not got round to listening so thank you ! Just my sort of thing too – all those landscapes. I can hear the Ennio Morricone influence! It is very different from her other work. It all goes surprisingly well with some of the books you have written about too!

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