The Unfolding

Hannah Peel & Paraorchestra

Released 01 April 2022

  1. The Universe Before Matter
  2. Wild Animal
  3. Passage
  4. The Unfolding
  5. If After Weeks Of Early Sun
  6. Perhaps It Made Us Happy For A Minute
  7. We Are Part Mineral
  8. Part Cloud
  9. The Unfolding Credits (Instrumental Version) - exclusive to the LP
  10. The Unfolding Credits

Liner notes

There are pieces of music that seek to tell us deeper stories. Others harness the talents of the players at their disposal in adventurous ways. Then there are the rare, generous works that make us think back to our roots as human beings and to our shared beginnings in the universe, that lift us in their melodies, rhythms and textures, that carry us with them.

The Unfolding is all of these things. An extraordinary eight-part collaboration between composer Hannah Peel (Mercury Prize and Emmy nominee) and Paraorchestra, it was made over three years in precious morsels of time around a global pandemic. These circumstances – unexpected when the collaboration began – add weight to its explorations in sound about who we are, where we came from, and who we could all be. The Unfolding also explores Paraorchestra’s progressive idea of what an orchestra should be, mixing acoustic, analogue, digital and assistive instruments with a unique ensemble of disabled and non-disabled musicians to make magic happen, and accessible to all.

I wanted to write them something that I felt was encompassing of who they are, and what they can achieve and what they bring to a show – which is this incredible energy and an incredible reminder of the human form and the human spirit. Hannah Peel on Paraorchestra

The collaboration’s roots go back to early 2018, when Paraorchestra’s Artistic Director, Charles Hazlewood, met Peel to ask if she’d consider writing for them. He’d first come across her “very randomly” some years earlier, he remembers, on YouTube, playing her music box cover version of ‘Tainted Love’ – he was particularly impressed that she’d made the music box herself. “I thought, wow, such skill, such creative imagination – I’m putting her down right now in my little book as someone that we ought to be trying to work with.” Since their first coffee onwards, it’s been “an unmitigated pleasure” he says. “She’s incredibly self-effacing and incredibly generous, her eyes and ears wide open to every tiny detail in the room.”

She’s incredibly self-effacing and incredibly generous, her eyes and ears wide open to every tiny detail in the room. Charles Hazlewood on Hannah Peel

Peel then saw the Paraorchestra playing Terry Riley’s ‘In C’; she was overwhelmed by the “energy about everything they do… and their ability to adapt and change and shift and mould”. In recent years, they’ve also reworked the music of Kraftwerk, Philip Glass and Barry White, and performed work that’s reconfigured expectations of theatre, dance and art installations. Peel found their versatility and collective capability incredibly inspiring. “I wanted to write them something that I felt was encompassing of who they are, and what they can achieve and what they bring to a show – which is this incredible energy and an incredible reminder of the human form and the human spirit.”


  • … the scope of Hannah Peels’ latest genre-busting opus couldn’t be greater... The Unfolding tackles the biggest of themes in a way that’s awed, never overwrought. UNCUT 8/10*
  • …fresh and original. MOJO
  • Passage is full of delicious atonal hovering, while If After Weeks of Early Sun offers arpeggiations, banging beats and joyous string stabs. The Observer
  • It peers into the crannies of matter, reads into the folds of the soul. Robert Macfarlane
  • It’s a remarkable piece of work. Parts of the traditional orchestra are enhanced with synths and hints of systems music. There are primal rhythms, and the voice of Victoria Oruwari is actually tear-inducing. Altogether, they have achieved a sense of great scale and wonder. Belfast Telegraph
  • The Unfolding is an album with a broader purpose that conveys its egalitarian, inclusive message with discretion, confidence and superb musicianship. It succeeds in balancing the beautiful with the cerebral, simultaneously existing as both head and heart music. Music OMH 4/5*
  • Serene, ethereal, and experimental: Hannah Peel & Paraorchestra’s new album, The Unfolding, is comfortably all of these things. The Vinyl Factory, Best New Vinyl Releases
  • gloriously individual Buzz 4/5*
  • Perhaps the most stunning element of The Unfolding is the notion that there is nothing that Hannah Peel can’t do and that Paraorchestra can’t perform. If we are to measure, the only basis is through abilities and in that Hannah Peel and Paraorchesta form the perfect partnership on The Unfolding. For Folk's Sake
  • Her line of thinking, her quest for invention and innovation and a constant pushing forwards is fast seeing her become something of an alt national treasure… on this showing it is only a matter of time before Peel is stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the neo-classical behemoths. Juno
  • a remarkable piece of work Yorkshire Post


Conducted by Charles Hazlewood

Vocals: Victoria Oruwari
Vocals: Hannah Peel
Alto Flute and Flute: Chloe Vincent
Recorders: James Risdon
Bb Clarinet: Guy Passey
Bass Clarinet: Lloyd Coleman
Bassoon: Linton Stephens
Percussion: Harriet Riley
Drums: Jonny Leitch
Synths & Electronics: Hannah Peel
Programming (track 2): Kincaid
Cello 1: Tom Wraith
Cello 2: Hattie McCall Davies
Double bass: Patrick Phillip

The Unfolding was written and produced by Hannah Peel
Orchestrated for Paraorchestra by Charlotte Harding

Recorded at Real World Studios in Wilshire, England
Engineered by Oil Jacobs
Assistant Engineered by Katie May
Mixed by Michael Keeney at Keeney & Stronge in Bangor, Northern Ireland
Mastered by Guy Davie at Electric Mastering, London

Artwork by Barnbrook
Studio photos by York Tillyer

Track 2 written by Hannah Peel and Kincaid.
Track 1 features words inspired by Robert Macfarlane’s Underland

Thank you to Adrian Utley for his time and synths during our R&D period, Bristol 2019
With thanks for the support of Steve Varden on electronics and Georgie Ward on synths during rehearsal

All tracks are published by Mute Song except for Track 1 Mute Song/Copyright Control and Track 2 Mute Song/District 6 Publishing

Hannah Peel is managed by Steve Malins at Random Music Management

As a registered charity, Paraorchestra are grateful for the support of their core funders: Arts Council England; The Mark Leonard Trust; Esmée Fairbairn Foundation; Bristol City Council Garfield; Weston Foundation.

With thanks to: Jonathan Harper, Hannah Williams Walton, Laura Evans, Helen Edwards, Nicci Bailey, Gemma Brooks, Zoe Miller, Nick Carling, Nathalie Blue, Amanda Jones, York Tillyer, Matt Osborne, Chris Roberts, Will Burns, Max Porter, Robert Macfarlane and everyone at Real World.

Further Listening

  • What Heat

    Bokanté + Metropole Orkest (Conducted by Jules Buckley)

    Released 27 September 2018

    Bokanté traces the blues from its roots in Africa and the Arab world throughout the diaspora and into a modern context. Led by Michael League (Snarky Puppy), the album features Guadeloupean vocalist Malika Tirolien and is a collaboration with the Metropole Orkest and arranger/conductor Jules Buckley.
  • The Appearance of Colour

    John Metcalfe

    Released 04 June 2015

    Composer, producer, classical violist, guitarist, and arranger to A-list pop stars, John Metcalfe has always been a name worth seeking out. The Appearance of Colour presents Metcalfe as a recording artist - as front man, maestro and manipulator of sounds. A carefully crafted listening experience with a beginning, middle and end, in which no two tracks sound or feel the same.

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