Check out this great article from The Quietus exploring The Magnetic North’s new album Prospect Of Skelmersdale. The album is out March 18th and available to pre-order now on iTunes


It’s a Monday morning and I’m acting as a taxi-driver for the day. I’ve just picked up at a train station in Wigan. In the car are three passengers and a small dachshund. We are heading for the Lancashire town of Skelmersdale. I’ve just been informed that when we arrive in Skem (as it’s known locally), the dog will have a video camera strapped to its back in order to make a short film. My Monday has just gotten a tad surreal.

The three passengers are The Magnetic North – Simon Tong (once of The Verve – we pass ex-bandmate Richard Ashcroft’s old flat en route), Erland Cooper (minus his Carnival), and multi-instrumentalist and solo-artist Hannah Peel. Their first album, 2012’s Orkney: Symphony Of The Magnetic North, was inspired by Cooper’s childhood home and we are heading to Skelmersdale because the idea for the follow-up record (Prospect Of Skelmersdale) was sparked by the town Simon moved to when he was 11 years old.

It may seem like an unlikely source of inspiration for an album. Designated a ‘new town’ in 1961, Skem was reforged as a series of Brutalist-styled estates, linked by a web of walkways and underpasses. The town has no traffic lights, used to lay claim to the “largest roundabout in Europe” and by the 1970s, it would not have won any pretty city awards.

However, even set against a backdrop of spiralling unemployment, Skem was far from a dystopian cliché. In the early 1980s, the town became the UK centre of the Transcendental Meditation movement. Scores of families moved to Skem to practice the TM ways of the Maharishi. Simon Tong’s family were amongst the new arrivals.…’ READ MORE

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