The Magnetic North assembled after Erland Cooper dreamt that Betty Corrigall told him to write about his hometown, Orkney. Corrigall was an islander who in the 1770’s, was abandoned by the man she fell pregnant to. Desperation and local criticism led Betty to suicide. Corrigall brought the band together to create their debut album, ‘Orkney: Symphony of The Magnetic North.’
The band is made up of three icons, Cooper, Simon Tong guitarist for The Verve and Hannah Peel, whose compositions featured on 2012 film ‘Anna Karenina.’ Together, they created an album, which was released in June, and portrays dramatic cliffs and powerful crashing waves.
Album opener ‘Stromness’ is lyric-less and lasts just over a minute. Setting the mood for the songs that follow it is a breathtakingly haunting piece. The wailing female vocals are like mythical Sirens seducing ships to shore to meet their fate. The song denotes wild seas, baron landscapes and mysterious female figures forever haunting. Current single ‘Hi-Life’ is crammed with strings that gather pace as they escalate. Tong’s influential style is obvious, echoing what The Verve perfected years before.
Track ‘Betty Corrigall’ offers melancholic vocals and sliding fingers across guitar strings, giving the song an honest emotion, capturing Betty’s tale flawlessly. The emotion is authentic and this is what makes it stand out. ‘Hoy Sound’ closes the album with an enchanting, soft lull.
The crackled backing track sounds like butterflies beating their wings against glass. This imagery captures the escapism Orkney provides to its residence and visitors. The album features the band’s film ‘Hunting for Remoteness,’ which captures the simplistic beauty and charm of the island. Orkney’s dramatic scenery shows exactly where the album’s inspiration came from. Every bleak wild mountainscape is captured in the 13 tracks on the album. Like the island is singing, expressing its power and beauty, its stunning colours and its changeable landscapes. In many ways this is a concept album, with Orkney as the star.
The film and album alike express how the lives of the locals who inhabit Orkney, have been shaped by this mesmerising place. History and beauty is what ‘Orkney: Symphony of The Magnetic North,’ is all about. Each song reflects the beauty of the landscape itself, capturing at its very heart, the wild magnificence of Orkney. This band do not just create stunning harmonies, they paint pictures of feelings and scenery that, when we close our eyes, we experience for ourselves. The memory of Betty Corrigall, and the history of Orkney, will live on forever, thanks to this enchanting album.