O U T S I D E L E F T   stay i n d e p e n d e n t

Hannah Peel has your invitation to explore space

Having grown up with dreams of space exploration, I'm willing this to be possible. 

get the weekly Outsideleft newsletter
by Jason Lewis, UK Music Editor for outsideleft.com
originally published: October, 2017
The juxtaposition of electronic music and brass band work hauntingly well together

Hannah Peel
Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia
My Own Pleasure

As a child I was obsessed by space travel, it was the the early 1970's and men were still landing on the moon.  Travelling to other planets seemed like the next thing that the human race would do, it all seemed so possible. As a child, it felt like there was a lot of science in my science fiction fantasies.  

The desire to explore outer space is a theme of Hannah Peel's new album 'Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia' . The protagonist is an elderly stargazer living in Barnsley who, we believe, travels to the aforementioned constellation.  Having grown up with my dreams of space exploration, I'm willing this to be possible. 

Unlike Peel's other work, 'Mary Casio...' is almost entirely instrumental (there are a few harmonies and samples, but that's all). The analogue synthesizers plot Mary's journey from Barnsley to the stars whilst a colliery brass band beautifully depict her as she drifts into the cosmos. 

The juxtaposition of electronic music and brass band work hauntingly well together. The horns add a cinematic boldness to the opening 'Goodbye Earth' then 'Sunrise Through the Dusty Nebula' they convey the breathtaking splendour of seeing galaxies from a new perspective. NASA should keep this on file for a forthcoming documentary on any further observations of the Voyager space probes.

There is a link between this album, and Peel's last work ('Awake but Always Dreaming'), which dealt with her grandmother's dementia. During a visit to the Alzheimer's Research Centre she noticed how brian neurons grown in a petri dish, when observed through a microscope, looked like stars in the universe.   As I listen to 'Journey to Cassiopeia' I wonder how much of the expedition is taking place in Casio's mind and is actually an exploration of inner, not outer, space.  


Wherever the journey takes place, the conclusion of the story is overwhelmingly powerful.  The majestic 'The Planet of Lost Souls' leads towards a delicate interlude from Peel's familiar music box, then to a mournful trumpet solo and an old recording of an opera singer (Peel's own grandfather, recorded in 1928). It is a touching reflection on the journey from the end of life to death. 



'Mary Casio: Journey to Cassiopeia' is an extraordinary album.  Not only does it soundtrack the fantastic voyage of an elderly stargazer, it is an invitation to explore space (outer and inner), too. 

Jason Lewis
UK Music Editor

Jason Lewis is a Birmingham based music, movie and arts obsessive. Jason's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.

more stories you really could read...


thumb through the ancient archives:

search for something you might like...


sign up for the outsideleft weekly. a selection of new and archived stories every week. Or less.

View previous campaigns.

Gorgeous George (2 of 2)
Part 2 (of 2) of Paul Hawkins' interview with George Pringle
Strange Bird A Warblin'
Micha Blue Smaldone steps off a Wellsian time travel carriage with a Dobro and song in his heart
The Power of the Whore's Bath.
It's not that Allison is against bathing, he just likes all the free time not showing provides him.
Blasters of War: Thee Silver Mt Zion
It takes an army to raise up a voice louder than war, but Thee Silver Mt. Zion, armed with disgust and hope, charges ahead regardless
The Jam, 1977 And All That
Our newest contributor, the somewhat enigmatic Ancient Champion, listens to the Jam and figures, Nothing says "Christmas is Coming" for some middle-aged men more than a remastered collection of punk rock standards...
Rabbits In An Expanded Field
Some of our favorite things...