the innocence mission announce ‘See You Tomorrow…’

Love. Connection. Community. Understanding. Most of us experience these aspects through the prism of family and friends. But not everybody can turn those feelings into song, especially not with the beauty and sensitivity of Pennsylvania trio the innocence mission, fronted by Karen Peris and husband Don. Following their Bella Union album debut Sun On The Square, which won the band some of their best-ever reviews, they have made another exquisite and touching album, See You Tomorrow, due for release 17th January. A record steeped in awe and wonder, intense longing, sadness and joy; a rich sequence of songs that attempt to describe the essence of what makes us human. The band have shared a moving video for lead track “On Your Side”, created by Karen Peris, which beautifully weaves together her distinctive hand-drawn animation with striking black & white photography.

Sufjan Stevens, who has covered the innocence mission’s classic ‘Lakes Of Canada’, once called their music “moving and profound. What is so remarkable about Karen Peris’ lyrics is the economy of words, concrete nouns which come to life with melodies that dance around the scale like sea creatures.”

The band recorded See You Tomorrow in the Peris’ basement (and the dining room where the piano sits). Karen wrote and sang ten of the album’s eleven songs, and plays guitars, piano, pump organ, accordion, electric bass, melodica, mellotron, and an old prototype strings sampler keyboard. Don contributes guitars, drums, vocal harmonies, and one lead vocal on his song ‘Mary Margaret In Mid-Air’. Fellow founder member Mike Bitts adds upright bass to four songs including ‘On Your Side’, the album’s first single.

Thematically, See You Tomorrow evolves from ‘Sun On The Square’, touching on the major changes that happen in the life of a family. Karen says, “Great love of course contains great anxiety, for the safety and health of the loved ones, for one’s own ability to be a good enough helper and companion, for the future. And the intense desire to hold the present moment of togetherness, at the very least to store it up in vivid detail, so that it can be not lost at all.” This desire can be felt in the song ‘Movie’, whose piano accompaniment echoes both the flickering of film and the unstoppable rush of time, and in ‘St. Francis and the Future’, which relates the tiny, perfect detail of a Jan Van Eyke painting to the human longing to hold off change, to keep it in the unflawed distance. Karen relates, “We were thrilled to come upon the painting ‘St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata’ long ago on a family day trip, and a kind attendant at the art museum gave our children a little magnifying glass to view it, and in the distance was a tiny city, birds in the sky, just barely visible. I’ve found in recent years that I was writing poems about that moment, but that the background of the painting had taken on a relation to the inevitable changes that I, as a mom, was mentally trying to hold off.”

Each successive innocence mission record marks the passing of time, and how we handle, and learn from, our experiences. “As time goes on I suppose we keep looking more toward connectedness, and feeling more gratitude though also more challenge about life, and wanting to find a language to define it somehow and wondering how others experience it,” says Karen. “The thought that these are universal concerns makes me feel more drawn to write songs, to join in a conversation, even though the conversation itself is sometimes about being at a loss for words.”

Two examples are ‘John As Well’ – “to crave knowing other people deeply, and being more truly known by someone” – and ‘At Lake Maureen’: wondering aloud about what the other person feels, for example the specific colours that they encounter in the natural world at a given moment, and how that combines with their emotions at the same moment.” The song contains one of Don’s favourite lyrics: “Make my soul come clean, a sail above Lake Maureen, sing into storms, sing into storms. This day is going.”

“There is a longing there to be transformed and a hopeful expectation that it is possible,” he explains. “I find joy, or a similar type of joy, in all of the songs,” he concludes. “A humble recognition of challenges and hardships, the acknowledgment and comfort in knowing that they are both personal and universal, and the expression of light and hope” – which is one way of summing up the perfect marriage of melody and words that is See You Tomorrow

Dog In The Snow shares ‘Roses’

With the release of Bella Union debut LP Vanishing Lands less than a month away on 15th November, Dog In The Snow today share a video for the track “Roses”. The video is again directed by Jay Bartlett with whom Helen Ganya Brown, aka Dog In The Snow, collaborated on the videos for both “Dark” and “Dual Terror”. Of the video Bartlett says: “Keeping with the themes running through the triptych of music videos for Dog In The Snow we decided to shoot a one take video for Roses. Starting close and claustrophobic, the frame would open out slowly to reveal a harsh landscape that the artist is now a part of. Some sort of closure for the visuals. Shooting this was quite hellish. We were exposed to all the elements that day, but mainly wind and rain, and I think we only managed to a few takes before we were happy to wrap. Blue hands and numbness was the order of the day, however looking back over the footage, the weather totally aided the video’s look.” Of the track Helen Ganya Brown adds: “Roses is the first song I wrote with all the themes of Vanishing Lands in mind. ‘Some Survive, Thousands Die’ is a photograph by Alva White which spurred on the narrative of the song – a journey into an unknown land. It’s a song for those who take the risk every day in search of something better.”

UK Live info for Dog In The Snow listed below…

Friday 15th November – Brighton – Resident Records

Saturday 16th November – London – Rough Trade East

Sunday 17th November – Nottingham – Rough Trade

Tuesday 19th November – London – SET Dalston

Wednesday 20th November – Bristol – Rough Trade

Dog In The Snow’s album debut for Bella Union is Vanishing Lands, as imposing, haunting and luminous collection of songs in the darker spaces between dream-pop, art-rock and electronica, lifted by euphoric melodies, ravishing vocals and absorbing lyrics. The album was initially created at Brown’s home in Brighton before co-producer Rob Flynn helped her add shifting, impressionistic swathes of colour, from the ominous chords that open ‘Light’ to the vocal eddies that close ‘Dark’. Brown wrote 8 of the 10 songs in a 3-week spell after a period of “strange dreams”. She recalls: “Dreams in black and white. I found myself in a dreamland and discovered it was being destroyed. I chose Vanishing Lands as an album title because it sounded suitably desolate, and lent the songs a feeling of cohesion.”

The themes of the two oldest tracks suit the ‘ruined world’ scenario. ‘Icaria’ is named after a utopian society established in the 1840s by a French socialist which only survived for 50 years. ‘Gold’ refers to America’s gold rush bonanza of the same era, when people searched for a better life, but instead created and faced catastrophe.

Born to a Thai mother and Scottish father, Brown was raised in Singapore from the age of five to eighteen, when she returned to the UK, making her home in Brighton. Learning guitar and subsequently Garageband software to construct broader sounds and styles of songwriting, she absorbed influences such as Sufjan Stevens, Scott Walker, David Lynch, Clint Mansell and Brian Eno: brooding, immersive, filmic universes through which Brown could escape her shy nature. But she has since stepped out, both as a commanding solo performer and one of the singers and musicians in the touring version of Lost Horizons, the collective co-founded by Simon Raymonde, Bella Union’s label boss.

Brown also cites key literary and visual influences. Film director Ingmar Bergman’s B&W masterpiece The Seventh Seal and David Lynch’s B&W lithographs impacted on Vanishing Lands’ desolate aesthetic and album artwork. Less overt this time are Singapore and Brown’s “fragmented sense of identity, being mixed race,” that underpinned her debut album ‘Consume Me’. The name Dog In The Snow comes from Franz Kafka’s iconic and prescient novel The Trial: “It seemed to represent finding liberation in an oppressed situation,” she explains. “I was trying to think of something with limitless creative space that doesn’t feel hindered in any way.”

The plight of the individual battered by the political system is echoed by the hooded black figures that appear in the album imagery, including the video that Brown has made for the fragile album highlight ‘Roses’. Her inspiration was a photo of refugees at sea, their faces hidden, desperate to escape their ruined homeland. But would their destination, if reached, provide comfort or more ruin? “It doesn’t help when people aren’t welcoming,” Brown says. “That was my mother’s experience when she arrived from Thailand.”

The album’s core theme also covers environmental ruination. ‘Fall Empire’ opens and closes with a warning: “If we did dig precious things from the land, we will invite disaster”, which Brown heard on the groundbreaking 1982 documentary Koyaanisqatsi. Given the path that humanity is currently taking, no wonder Brown’s dreams seem to prophesise the end of times.

Still, she feels Vanishing Lands’ finale ‘Dark’ is “the most optimistic song on the album. Like I’m waking up from this dreamland and finding freedom rather than it being a negative feeling. Because things do change. We have to hope things will get better.” 

Birthday tribute to Ivor Raymonde

Bella Union’s Simon Raymonde remembers his father Ivor Raymonde on his birthday…

Ivor was born on this day 93 years ago and as we are about to release the second compilation of some of his work, I wanted to celebrate the day with this photo of us looking miserable on holiday. But thankfully we were mostly very happy! 

Although he died young and left us all bereft, he did leave us with a bewildering array of music. Whether he was singing, playing arranging or producing, he did it all with class. He was from an era where you never turned down work if offered and up till the 80’s when synths took much of the arrangers’ work away, he was always busy. From humble beginnings busking in the east end, to playing jazz on the Queen Mary, from  being an extra in Hancock’s Half Hour to working with icons like Dusty, Bowie and The Walker Brothers, he left his mark not just on the world of music, but his wife and his four children. We all loved him dearly. Happy Birthday old man x

Happy Release Day Broen

Today Norwegian five-piece Broen are pleased to share their new experi-pop album ‘Do You See The Falling Leaves?’, their second on the Bella Union label. Earlier this week the band shared the glorious ‘Dorian Grays’, of which they commented the below…

“Inspired by the story in “The Portrait of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde and “Time Machine” by H.G. Wells, the tune explores the irony of human existence – the fact that even though history repeats itself we tend to make the same mistakes made by our predecessors. We have the opportunity to learn from history yet we cannot learn if we haven´t experienced the same and physically been through some events. Also our obsession of staying young and never aging. Dorian Gray was ignoring all his disturbing sides and had a desire to stay young and beautiful forever.”

Broen return with eyes open to new vistas on their second album Do You See The Falling Leaves?. Back in 2017, Norway’s experi-pop quintet brought exuberant reserves of intelligence, positivity and warm-spirited commonality to the world-building bustles of jazz, funk, psychedelia, electronics and hip-hop on their international debut, I <3 ArtDo You See the Falling Leaves? extends its predecessor’s vision and expands its brightly generous worldview, opening the door to mindful, invigorating and mind-bogglingly inventive ways of composing, engaging and connecting with nature, with each other and with their own potential.

As Anja Lauvdal (synths, piano) explains, finding ways to connect is a core theme. Even if EE Cummings’ classic minimalist poem ‘l (a’ was not an influence on the album, its use of a falling leaf to symbolize loneliness clicked with Anja. “I thought that was a nice comment to the title/theme of the record. People can use each other and nature around us to feel connected instead of lonely. The opposite of loneliness is maybe to be connected – as an individual – but also connected to the world. In a way, ‘do you see the falling leaves’ then also means ‘do you see the lonely people’, and that you can open your eyes or reach out a hand.”

Broen’s eyes are sharp from opener “Where Is Passion?”, where singer Marianna Røe asks “Where is history… peace… love hiding?”over amniotic ripples of effects and piano. When she breaks surface to seek out “passion, complexity, duality, singularity”and more, the song leaps to funky, playful, searching life with her. Like sunshine prog-pop on a mindful mission, the radiant title-track seeks to define true engagement – rather than mere distraction – over fluent backdrops of synths, ever-shifting in tune with its lyrical explorations.

Elsewhere, Broen match meaning to method with fresh punch and focused purpose. The funk-pop urgency of “Dorian Grays” mirrors its encouragement to live in the now. While “Never Was” lives in its delicately introspective moment, the knottily explosive “Lines” frames an urgent call to embrace possibility.

Certainly, Broen are open to curveballs.“A couple of the songs are pure love songs, which is nice because we didn’t have a big repertoire of those,” Marianna deadpans. Dreamy and dappled, “Bring It Closer” and “Shut Down” harbor beautiful twists on romantic sentiments. Around them, contrasts mount. “Free World” issues stingingly satirical critiques of divisiveness; “Bubbles” mounts an effervescent take on cultural polarization. Finally, “Strings” mirrors its invitation to loosen our tethers in an unmoored saxophone break, floating into space in preparation for – presumably – more new perspectives to come.

To prepare for Do You See…, Broen brainstormed themes. “We wanted it to have a positive message,” Marianna explains, “but some songs ended up more aggressive than positive. That’s because we wanted to explore what it means to be human in this world and in a capitalistic society, and also the historical aspect of it. Why do we keep making the same mistakes? We also wanted to talk about nature. Some songs use images from nature as metaphors but we also wanted to get into our relationship with nature.”

Meanwhile, Røe (vocals), Lauvdal (synths, piano), Heida Karine Johannesdottir (tuba), Hans Hulbækmo (drums) and Lars Ove Stene Fossheim (guitars) dug deep into their collaborative relationships. Although intra-band bonds stretch back to Broen’s time as music students, they stretch themselves anew on Do You See…. The instrumentation is “more naked”, says Lars Ove, than usual. Heida’s tuba is played untreated; Anja plays more piano. Fresh noises include Lars Ove’s synth guitar and guest Signe Emmeluth’s sax. The songs were developed in the studio, flipping Broen’s tendency to explore them live before recording. “Because we have so many great possibilities inside this wonderful band, we try to challenge each other to find other ways of thinking all the time,”Anja explains.

This can sometimes take the form of navigating a “big bowl of influence soup”, says Lars Ove, who name checks Laurie Anderson, Portishead, Mahmoud Ahmed, Neil Young, Mariah Carey, TLC and more. Marianna adds Destiny’s Child and Joy Division to the broth. Mostly, though, Broen deal in distinction. Anja references a Village Voice essay in which US writer Jessica Hopper praises the – predominantly – female-driven best albums of 2018 for transporting listeners to “discrete new worlds”.These albums, Hopper argues, recognize raw realities but also imagine a life “beyond chaos, strife, and dysfunction”. Likewise, Do You See…rises above mere genre-juggling in its self-contained, forward-thinking intent. “I never think of our music as a ‘mix of things’,” says Anja. “It’s more its own world.”

Certain constants supported Broen’s commitment to the new. Like their debut, Do You See…was recorded in Oslo’s Studio Paradiso. Noel Summerville (mastering) and Jaga Jazzist’s Marcus Forsgren (mixing, co-voice on ‘Lines’) returned to assist.

But all bets will be off live, where Broen revel in reinvention. Anja recalls a recent trio of shows played “for fun” at Khartoum, a small bar in Oslo, where they found new, playful, thoughtful ways to navigate their songs. “I think we’re going to do more of that – try to find spaces that make us feel like stuff can happen. For us, the music has to be able to move.” A snapshot of a fluent band in motion, Do You See the Falling Leaves? is a glorious spur to Broen’s ongoing explorations.

The Flaming Lips announce ‘The Soft Bulletin Recorded Live At Red Rocks with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra’

On 26th May 2016, The Flaming Lips performed their universally acclaimed 1999 album The Soft Bulletin in its entirety with the Colorado Symphony at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado. This particular event has been regarded by those in attendance as one of the most awe-inspiring, moving and magical moments of a lifetime. For the Lips and their fans, perhaps the apex of a magnificent interpretation that will remain as rewarding and emotionally-charged as it was that night in 2016. The Flaming Lips performed the 12-track album in its original sequence with new arrangements accompanied by a 69-piece orchestra and 56-strong chorus. The performance was conducted by the internationally celebrated conductor Andre De Ridder.

Now, the resulting live recording is being released to celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Soft Bulletin. The album was the band’s breakthrough moment and featured the hit singles “Race for the Prize” and “Waitin’ for a Superman.” The album will be released digitally and on CD on 29th November via Bella Union in the UK/Europe and Warner Bros in the rest of the world. A vinyl release will follow a few weeks later. Album pre-orders begin today and will include an instant download of “Race For The Prize” from the album. Click here to pre-order.

Response from the media for The Soft Bulletin was overwhelming in its praise:

“This is one of those albums people are going to obsess over for many years to come.” Pitchfork

“A joyous, celestial celebration of sound.” NME

“The eccentric Oklahoma outfit The Flaming Lips serenely release another winning neo-psychedelic recording. Densely textured but melodic… No one else has posited a parallel universe in which the Sixties and the Nineties exist simultaneously.” Rolling Stone

“The Soft Bulletin echoes the oft-mimicked Smiley Smile by The Beach Boys, with its psychedelic wobbliness, songs-within-songs and airy temperament.” Q Magazine

“Not just the best album of 1999, The Soft Bulletin might be the best record of the entire decade.”All Music

Susanne Sundfør announces ‘Music For People In Trouble: Live From The Barbican’

“Considered, innovative and genuinely captivating, tonight feels like the opus of a musician who has truly mastered her field.” The Independent – 5 Stars*****

“Scandinavian magical mystery tour induces euphoria and disorientation in equal measure” Evening Standard – 5 Stars*****

… a stunning audio-visual feat … intricate, personal and emotionally devastating.” NME

Susanne Sundfør will release ‘Music For People In Trouble: Live From The Barbican’ on 29th November 2019, through Bella Union / Live Here Now. You can pre-order HERE and listen to the stunning ‘Reincarnation below…

Susanne Sundfør’s fifth album ‘Music For People In Trouble’ released in 2017 offered beautiful moments of respite for a world in turmoil and received huge critical acclaim with Mojo calling it “striking”, The Guardian, “another triumph”, the Daily Mirror, “a career defining album of the year contender”, The 405 hailing her as “an icon in the making”, and CMU as “one of the greatest artists of the last decade”.

But what was to follow had critics and audience awestruck once again as Sundfør presented ‘Music For People In Trouble’ in a unique live show which took the intimate power of the album and elevated it to monumental proportion in an immersive audio-visual production. Sundfør played the ‘Music For People In Trouble’ show in just a handful of places across Scandinavia, plus one UK show at The Barbican, London on 21st May 2018, which is where this special recording was made,

“The Music for People in Trouble show at the Barbican was the last of a short and sweet tour, where me and my team of musicians and crew performed the album behind a veil that covered the whole front of the stage. We put videos on the veil, making the stage both a 2D and 3D experience alternating between animation, photography and live video of the performance layered on top of the actual performance. The veil was like a fishnet up close so the audience could easily see the musicians if the screen was blank. I’ve been touring on and off for a decade, and I felt like it was time to try something different with the way I perform my music. I’ve always loved going to the movies, opera, ballet, it sucks you in, it’s a more intense experience because it combines so many different artistic expressions at once, and that’s what I wanted with the Music for People in Trouble show. Unfortunately we didn’t get any good footage of the performance, it lives on in people’s minds, and there’s something unmodern and romantic that I like about that. You can’t google it. You’ll find snippets on Instagram, but it doesn’t reflect the three dimensional space of the beautiful concert halls we played in. It’s our little secret, our little, intimate moment together, us and the audience. But we got a good quality recording of the music, and that’s something at least.” (Susanne Sundfør)