Introducing: Landshapes. New album ‘Rambutan’ out June 17th on Bella Union

Debut album ‘Rambutan‘ out June 17th on Bella Union

Album launch party @ Corsica Studios – June 19th – tickets: Eat Your Own Ears


Directed by Ian Pons Jewell

In a fickle, hyper-speed age of quick and easy consumption, taking one’s time to evolve seems a luxury. But Landshapes did just that. “We needed time to work things out…we’ve been brewing I suppose…” explains Luisa.

As their previous incarnation Lulu and the Lampshades, they’re probably best known for the viral cup song You’re Gonna Miss Me – over 3 million hits on Youtube and counting – but in the ensuing period they’ve undergone a considerable musical metamorphosis.

They have learnt and grown together, four distinctive personalities jostling and pulling, each with their own set of influences and sensibilities – an unlikely alchemy which comes together and makes sense. Broad brushstrokes, big sounds and mournful melodies forged a new soundscape, so that when a typo accidentally billed them as ‘Landshapes’ it seemed an appropriate description for an altogether new sound, and an altogether new band.

Landshapes is the sound of four people in a dingy practice room, building on accidents, listening over and reworking obsessively until every band member is satisfied. An unconventional and serendipitous a process it might be, but it’s crucial to Landshapes overall sound.

Their debut album Rambutan – the name chosen “not so much after the fruit but for the sound the word makes” and produced by Ash Workman is a distillation of songs old and new, re-worked and fine tuned with a deft precision.

In Limbo, with its stunning video, proves a triumphant opening salvo. “It’s always felt like a fighting song both musically and lyrically” says Luisa Gerstein. With images of Bolivia’s Cholita female wrestlers proving a major stimulus whilst recording, Luisa sought them out, traveling to La Paz and teaming up with director Ian Pons Jewell. The resulting film is a dignified response to a “Latin American society where being both indigenous and a woman is a double sub-class” – a celebration of these extraordinary women both in and out of the wrestling ring.

Their unorthodox approach to songwriting is writ large across the ten tracks. Impasse “the oldest song on the record was a “tinkery ukulele thing” that became something “bigger and better with the band”; Threads “a lot of ideas that came together in the practice room, has the feel of different parts interjecting like a conversation” and Racehorses “a truculent song” that was to become one of their favourites after Heloise and Jemma developed a new bass and guitar part. Demons acts as a marker of their evolution – “recorded as Lulu And The Lampshades, it felt closer to the sound we were developing and tracks that change in the way it sounds and how we worked together as a band.”

Forthcoming single Insomniacs Club “is cursed” according to the band. “Anyone who gets involved with it gets insomnia. The guy making the video hasn’t slept for days, true story.”

Landshapes take on another dimension in a live setting. With drummer Dan the only constant, multi instrumentalists Luisa, Heloise and Jemma shift seamlessly from one song to the next swapping instruments and vocals with a fluid dexterity. This synchronicity – and their evolution as a band – was helped by some intensive touring under their previous moniker. Weeks spent in each others’ company, experiencing each others’ music and film selections, means – explains Dan – that “you start to absorb what you like and dislike, individually and collectively. Figuring out which direction you’re heading in via shared experience and foggy disparate influences. I think we’re still fine tuning that direction – and that’s good.”

Rambutan is released on Bella Union on June 17th.

Landshapes are Dan Blackett (drums, vocals), Luisa Gerstein (ukelele, vocals), Heloise Tunstall-Behrens (bass, ukelele, vocals, violin), Jemma Freeman (guitar, vocals).

Watch: Marques Toliver // Control

Fresh off a European tour with label mates Beach House, and with his his much-anticipated debut Land Of CanAan due for release in May on Bella Union, Marques Toliver has just unveiled a stylish b/w for new single ‘Control’ which you can watch below…

 Catch him live in London with a full band on Wednesday 22 May at St Pancras Old Church.

Watch: John Grant – GMF

You can now watch the new video for GMF, from John Grant’s new album Pale Green Ghosts….

Directed by Lucy Luscombe, this very funny and heartwarming video follows a day in the life of John (and a basketball) and his many encounters along the way, from old ladies in pet stores to the nightclub dancefloor…

John Grant will embark on an extensive UK & Irish tour throughout May including a headline show at Shepherds Bush Empire on Wednesday 15th May.

Thursday 2 May – BELFAST – Marquee
Friday 3 May – DUBLIN – Vicar Street
Saturday 4 May – CORK – Cyprus Avenue
Sunday 5 May – KILKENNY – Watergate Theatre
Tuesday 7 May – BATH – Komedia
Wednesday 8 May – OXFORD – Academy 2
Thursday 9 May – BIRMINGHAM – Institute – The Library
Saturday 11 May – LEEDS – Metropolitan University
Sunday 12 May – EDINBURGH – Queens Hall
Tuesday 14 May – MANCHESTER – Ritz
Wednesday 15 May – LONDON – Shepherds Bush Empire
Thursday 16 May – BRIGHTON – St Georges
Saturday 18 May – CAMBRIDGE – Junction
Sunday 19 May – NORWICH – Norfolk & Norwich Festival @ Open Up

Van Dyke Parks – Super Chief: Music For The Silver Screen

Bella Union is very pleased to announce that we will celebrate this year’s Record Store Day with new music from Van Dyke ParksSuper Chief: Music For The Silver Screen is an ‘orchestral fantasy’ inspired by a rail journey Van Dyke embarked upon across the United States in 1955 and will be made available for the first time on very limited vinyl on Saturday 20th April.

1. The Super Chief
2. Go West Young Man
3. The Dining Car
4. The Pleasure Dome
5. Bar Talk
6. Joan Crawford
7. Last Call
8. Into The Gloaming
9. Crack Of Dawn
10. Flats As A Platte
11. Old Joe Clark
12. The Water Is Wide
13. I Ride An Old Paint Horse
14. Iron Horse
15. Teepee Motel
16. By Campground
17. Forgotten Not Gone
18. The Continental Divide
19. Just Yonder
20. Virgin Territory
21. A Spanish Kitchen
22. Bolero Torero
23. The Road Runner And Rattler
24. Bed Of Stones
25. So Long Santa Fe
26. Crossing The Colorado
27. A Date With Valentino
28. A Short Chat With Miss Crawford
29. The Joshua Tree
30. Chateau Marmont

From the man himself…


Music for the Silver Screen!

I’ve made an orchestral fantasy illustrating my first trip across the U.S.A. by rail, in 1955. This Suite is drawn from over a score of years, and as many films, now re-recorded from my archives as a film-music composer..

Most of this music has been faintly presented, under the din of horse hooves, gunplay, and voice-over. Much of it has never been heard before, having ended up on editing room floors from entirely re-cut films, or movies that never made it past a box office. I felt it was high time to give it a proper listen.

As I pondered the amazingly broad array of genres available, the challenge was what not to include. Quickly, it all simmered to clarify like butter, reducing to my impressions of that first epic rail-ride I took across the United States.

In editing, I was surprised to discover my penchant for folk themes, reframed in orchestral settings. (There are countless quotes from the 19th century “The American Century”).

The lingo of such traditional American music reveals my obsession, however unconscious, for rustic old saws that can still cut the wood. Yep, it’s Americana. All made in the great 48.

Celtic examples abound: “The Water is Wide”, “Old Joe Clark”, “The Forked Deer”, “Saint Anne’s Reel”, “I Ride an Old Paint” etc. With these references, a dash of low-church hymns (“Goin’ Home”) and an occasional Aboriginal motif, all embedded in this novel and singular Ode to that passing American scene….so long ago, yet about a handshake away.

As to the hyper-romanticism of this dream escape? Guilty as charged. And why not?

My first impressions from the three days’ journey that introduced it to me was pure romance.

My only creative license in these titles? The introduction of Joan Crawford.

Miss Crawford was nowhere near that luxury liner I took that year. Yet, I’d met her even before I embarked, and I knew she’d ridden on other Super Chiefs.

Rail then was the exclusive way that stars rode West. (The “Super Chief” era was a full generation  before Pan Am and TWA brought trans-continental travel to the skies on the propeller-driven Lockheed Constellation).

It’s been said: “Never judge a book by its movie”. The same mercy may apply to music that springs from the Silver Screen, where it’s often more felt than heard. Lest we forget.

So I’m content, just that this music may be felt, only in a purely audio setting.

It can come in handy as a backdrop to a romantic interlude in candle-lit dinner conversation over a fine linen-count. (I’ve tried this at home). Perhaps for a head-set in a subway tunnel,  or as a car-tune in a smooth segue from the surrounding road-rage on a daily commute.

Such dreams are still born in Hollywood.”

Songs Cycled, a new album from Van Dyke Parks is also to be released on May 6th, with a UK date in London at Alexandra Palace on May 5th (at ATP curated byGrizzly Bear).