The Magnetic North – the occasional musical partnership of Erland Cooper, Simon Tong & Hannah Peel – release their second album on March 18th 2016 on Full Time Hobby.
Skelmersdale in West Lancashire was designated a new town in 1961. Part of the UK’s second wave of post-war population redistribution, it was failing within twenty years. In the early ’80s, the town became the official UK home of the Transcendental Meditation movement. Geographically placed somewhere near the centre of the country, the town was deemed the perfect site for the movement to build their ‘ideal maharishi village complete with gold meditation dome’ (the Guardian). The local community was soon augmented by families from across the country looking to live peaceful, peace-promoting lives with an overriding ambition to spread goodwill to the town and beyond.
Inspired by the town and the lives of its inhabitants, the Magnetic North’s Prospect of Skelmersdale sits somewhere between finely tuned kitchen sink drama and urban psychogeography. Inspired as much by the greys and greens of Kes as the soothing, cyclical patterns of meditative ragas, Prospect of Skelmersdale is a collection of musical snapshots of a uniquely British town. Drawing on childhood memories, the urban landscape and the lives of its inhabitants, the album perfectly uncovers the beauty, magic and mythology that can be found in the most unexpected places.
Gathering together archived news stories, dim-lit memories, directions from road signs, local graffiti and tales from the town’s dual modern histories, the Magnetic North beautifully detail a dozen tales of hope and hopelessness.
The Magnetic North’s first album – Orkney: Symphony of the Magnetic North was released in 2013. It was described by Clash as “something close to mesmerising” while the Times praised its “unobtrusively lovely melodies”.