Orkney: Symphony Of The Magnetic North by The Magnetic North (Album)
Erland Cooper and Simon Tong of Erland And The Carnival unite with Hannah Peel on this beautiful Orkney concept album.
oncept albums can be a tricky beast to tame. Some can be harnessed in such a way that they let an artist immerse themselves in an idea so completely that the concept becomes a living entity. On the other hand, some are so lame that shooting them would be the most humane outcome for their listeners. The more that’s said about Pet Sounds, the Beach Boys haunting testament to Brian Wilsons fragile psyche, the better; as for Rick Wakeman’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII…well let’s just say nothing.
The Magnetic North is a collective comprised of Erland And The Carnival’s songwriter Erland Cooper and multi-instrumentalist Simon Tong, who are joined by Irish singer songwriter Hannah Peel. The title of their debut release is inspired by a book entitled Orkney: The Magnetic North and takes Cooper’s homeland of the Orkney Islands as its concept.
The music is a soaring triumph of beautiful melodies, aching orchestral moments and touching vocals, leaving the listener feeling as though they are a delicate mist, hanging over the Orkneys and gliding over their Neolithic grasslands. Throughout, one can hear resemblance to Hannah Peel’s elegant folk and Erland And The Carnivals’ ever-so-slightly-sinister Belle & Sebastian-esque indie. Unlike the band members’ day jobs, however, this record feels more focused on taking you on a journey than on highlighting individual songs.
Crucially, Orkney… has an identity all of its own, suggesting that The Magnetic North will be more than a mere side project, as they harness the concept of Orkney with consummate ease.
Verdict: A tender and delicate musical adaptation of the Neolithic wonder of Orkney.
Out now on Full Time Hobby.