A.A. Williams announces tour with Mono

Following excellent reviews for Forever Blue, her recently-released debut album on Bella Union, A.A. Williams has announced news of an extensive European tour in March and April 2021 as special guest of MONO, including four UK shows.

Crictical acclaim for Forever Blue:

“Williams moves with ease between singer-songwriter territory and post-metal heaviness… Forever Blue is a remarkable accomplishment, confirming that Williams has already built a world of her own.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“Revelatory… Minimalist singer-songwriter material blending with elements of classical, metal and post-rock to make a distinctive whole.” The Observer (One To Watch)

“Darkly beguiling… A.A. Williams’ songs maintain an eerie delicacy whether she chooses a setting that’s spare, ornate or pulverising… The shifts between moments of high drama and quiet tension point to her kinship with Chelsea Wolfe and PJ Harvey.” Uncut

“Stirring and evocative… We’re only halfway through 2020 but the chances of a more heartrending and fully formed debut emerging this year are practically zero.” Metal Hammer – 9/10

“Beautifully meditative… music that hypnotises… An impressive debut.” PROG

“An impressively confident sound-world… cinematic and majestic.” Financial Times

“Enduring the emotional abyss with breathtaking grace and grit on her debut album; A.A. Williams’ Forever Blue is a record that reveals more of its sublime poetry each time it’s listened to.” The Line Of Best Fit – 9/10

“A stunning eight track debut… Her vocals are stirring and emotive, while conveying raw emotion that perfectly encapsulates the anxieties and addictions of love and loss… Just sublime.” Clash – 8/10

“With her weighty vocals floating high in the mix, Forever Blue is a dense, smouldering song-cycle, veering effortlessly between sweeping classical, crushing metal and even traditional singer-songwriter territories… An engrossing new talent.” NARC – 4 Stars ****

A concise yet profound debut album that displays incredible craft both lyrically and dynamically.” Secret Meeting – 8.5/10

“A debut of richness, depth and genuinely shattering emotional engagement – pure melancholic majesty to lose yourself in.” Beats Per Minute – 8.2/10

Hilang Child debuts ‘Good To Be Young’

As a first taste of a new studio album due in early 2021, Hilang Child has shared a hypnotic video to a dazzling new track titled “Good To Be Young.” The video was directed by Tough Honey using Notch VFX and motion-capture technology and features a dance performance by Rachel Laird and Hazel Sutton. 

Of the track Ed Riman aka Hilang Child says: “Good To Be Young is the first in a chain of songs exploring the relationships myself and others have with the validation-led world of modern social connection. A concept that feels even more significant now, with the global coronavirus pandemic having forced a transition to almost exclusively online communication over the last few months. The song was written using Brian Eno & Peter Chilvers’ iOS app ‘Bloom’ as a musical instrument; I created an ambient bed using the app alongside a number of other textures, then wrote my way up through vocals, drums and heavy bass. I wanted to convey a sense of there being a narrator looking into a crowd of people, pondering over what’s going through their heads as they awkwardly pretend to be having the time of their lives for the camera, hiding their anxious reality and true personality beneath a false version of themselves. To sing the gang-vocals which represent this crowd I enlisted some friends to be my choir for a night – among them are Jack, Lily and Sowy from Penelope Isles, Paul Thomas Saunders, Alex Patterson (AK Patterson), Ellen Murphy (Balaami/El & Del/Nitework) and Hannah & Zoe from Lonely Fire. The song was co- produced by myself and JMAC (Troye Sivan, Haux, Lucy Rose).”

Ed Riman is the Eurasian songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist behind the Hilang Child moniker. His first album Years was released on Bella Union in 2018, earning plaudits from the likes of Lauren Laverne on BBC 6 Music and reviewers across including Q, MOJO, and The Line Of Best Fit. Notable tour dates when promoting Years included SXSW in Austin, TX, Iceland Airwaves festival in Reykjavik and a run of concerts in Indonesia in collaboration with the British Council and Greenpeace. Not one for sitting still, he also regularly finds time to tour as a bandmember with other acts, spending a year singing with Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde’s new project Lost Horizons (including mainstage slots at Green Man and Bluedot Festival) and as a session drummer with London collective Outlya, labelmate Dog In The Snow and Big Dada alumni Elan Tamara. 

Hilang Child had been praised for the serene nature of his debut album but the intervening period has seen a brasher, more upfront aesthetic enter his songwriting. Opening his mind to more collaboration, co-writing and communal performance, a new sound is beginning to emerge from Hilang Child which displays a true evolution on Riman’s creativity. The new songs have a noticeable confidence and feeling of congregation, whether it’s massive gang vocal reprises, aggressive bass-synths and hypnotic drums, or the juxtaposition of a pumping, heavy groove with ethereal woodwind textures. Despite hold-ups owing to the global Covid-19 pandemic (Hilang Child had tours cancelled and a forced transition to completing new material remotely, unable to get back in the studio to finish what had been started), the new songs are a significant step up from what came before and will be trickling out in 2020 alongside visuals created by London collective Tough Honey. 

Psychic Markers share ‘Speechless Implications (D’un Soupir)’

Having only just released their self-titled album back in May, Psychic Markers are set to release a new mixtape on 24th July titled Blue Dreams, or Sucre De La Pastéque that will only be available digitally and on cassette. Today the London band share the bi-lingual ‘Speechless Implications (D’un Soupir)’, their new track reminiscent of a Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin number. 

The album, split into two parts, was recorded during lockdown between London and Paris, where band members Leon Dufficy and Steven Dove were holed up respectively. Initially recorded as a bonus cassette for the self-titled album Psychic MarkersBlue Dreams, or Sucre De La Pastéque is a collection of new ideas manifesting, as Steven Dove mentions… 

“I spent a lot of lockdown waiting impatiently for books and other goodies to be delivered, one of which was Richard Bruatigan’s ‘In Watermelon Sugar’ who you can hear reading the poem “All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace” on the final track. The rest of my time was spent watching movies, eating and making this record, ’Sucre de la Pasteque’, or in English ‘Watermelon Sugar’. In contrast with most musical projects there was no grand plan here, I wanted to make something inspired by how I was feeling on a day to day basis. I knew I had a limited supply of equipment and only a pair of headphones so I relied heavily on my imagination, which thankfully had plenty of time to drift off on various tangents.” 

“There was also an emphasis on having my location influence the songs (I was in Paris), most obviously on the duet ‘Speechless Implications’ in which the lyrics are sung in both English and French, a bi-lingual pop song of sorts. Above all it gave me the freedom to write and record in a manner reminiscent of the days starting out making music, hopefully it comes across this way.”

Leon Dufficy also gives his take on the creation of this new collection of songs… “One morning I was in an internet rabbit hole looking for vibes/visuals to accompany the band and I stumbled across some footage of a 60’s housewife taking LSD for the first time. The way she describes what it was doing to her mind/body, a sort of hope wrapped up in sadness or nostalgia for a forgotten memory or an unknown future. It directly resonated with me, I tried to keep that feeling present through my side of the tape.  
These are weird times and it makes you think about the real things like friends and family, these feelings crept their way into my songs. The last track has my 3-year-old son Orbison singing a song he wrote, in other parts you can hear nature recordings that were made in my mums’ backyard in Australia. It was my way of keeping them close to me while we waited out the days.”

“melodies flow, drama is intensified, and darker atmospherics are embraced” MOJO

“alluringly hazy and beguiling… the obvious promise of their earlier work has blossomed into something more expansive” Electronic Sound

“impressively immersive” Record Collector

Blue Dreams, or Sucre De La Pastéque is available to order HERE.

The Flaming Lips share ‘Dinosaurs On the Mountain’

Today, The Flaming Lips release a new track and video, “Dinosaurs On The Mountain,” from their forthcoming album American Head set for release on 11th September via Bella Union in the UK/Europe and Warner Records in the US. “Dinosaurs” follows on the tailwinds of the plaintive ‘Flowers Of Neptune 6’ and the heartfelt ‘My Religion Is You’. “Dinosaurs On The Mountain” was filmed during quarantine in The Lips’ home state of Oklahoma and directed by George Salisbury and Wayne Coyne for delo creative.

American Head finds The Flaming Lips basking in more reflective lyrical places as Wayne Coyne explains in a long form story about the album. Excerpt below: 

“Even though The Flaming Lips are from Oklahoma we never thought of ourselves as an AMERICAN band. I know growing up (when I was like 6 or 7 years old) in Oklahoma I was never influenced by, or was very aware of any musicians from Oklahoma. We mostly listened to the Beatles and my mother loved Tom Jones (this is in the 60’s)… it wasn’t till I was about 10 or 11 that my older brothers would know a few of the local musician dudes. 

So… for most of our musical life we’ve kind of thought of ourselves as coming from ‘Earth’… not really caring WHERE we were actually from. So for the first time in our musical life we began to think of ourselves as ‘AN AMERICAN BAND’… telling ourselves that it would be our identity for our next creative adventure. We had become a 7-piece ensemble and were beginning to feel more and more of a kinship with groups that have a lot of members in them. We started to think of classic American bands like The Grateful Dead and Parliament-Funkadelic and how maybe we could embrace this new vibe.

The music and songs that make up the AMERICAN HEAD album are based in a feeling. A feeling that, I think, can only be expressed through music and songs. We were, while creating it, trying to NOT hear it as sounds… but to feel it. Mother’s sacrifice, Father’s intensity, Brother’s insanity, Sister’s rebellion…I can’t quite put it into words.

Something switches and others (your brothers and sisters and mother and father…your pets) start to become more important to you…in the beginning there is only you… and your desires are all that you can care about…but… something switches.. I think all of these songs are about this little switch.” 

Happy Release Day to Mr Ben & The Bens

Happy release day to Mr Ben & The Bens who release their new album ‘Life Drawing’ today! Read some kind words below and then listen till your heart’s content 💙

“One-man band Ben Hall stands in a proud line of beguilingly eccentric British popcraft that runs from Syd Barrett and Kevin Ayers to Euros Childs and Gruff Rhyss… With a voice that can shift from Harvest-era Neil Young to Ray Davies there’s a quietly gorgeous quality to everything he touches.” Uncut Magazine – 8/10

“The songs are sincere, effecting and idiosyncratic in their detail… A gorgeous album of beautiful, bittersweet songs worthy of your attention.” NARC. Magazine – 4 Stars****

“We’ve been big fans of Mr. Ben & The Bens since we first caught them in Leeds a couple of years ago. Recently we’ve been more than taken with singles Watering Can and Beast in the House.” Backseat Mafia

“It’s a perfect mix of optimism and crushing reality.” For The Rabbits

“As woodwind, brass, and twilight-hued guitars shuffle along, its apparent that Mr Ben & The Bens have a knack for making anything and everything sound delightful… even wistful swathes of melancholy.” Secret Meeting

After the celestial adventures of Mr Ben and the Bens’ previous issue, band-leader Ben Hall finds all the magic he needs on earth with his new album. On 2019’s Who Knows Jenny Jones?, Hall plotted the story of a young, shy Pitsmoor woman who returned from an alien encounter newly armed with serious disco-dancing know-how. Released on Bella Union today, Life Drawing looks closer to home – Sheffield and thereabouts – for 12 brightly plaintive, character-driven vignettes, set to warm, acoustic, indie-folk-pop backdrops after its predecessor’s close encounters of the synth-driven kind.

A “cloudy thread of narrative” is present, Hall explains, but this time it’s left open for listeners to map routes through it. “The idea with the title is that the songs are character sketches, and their stories coalesce in a place that has a bit of all the towns in the North of England I’ve lived in. Bits of myself in the stories came out unintentionally, so I’d like it if the listener could find those semi-truths from the songs and place them into their own experiences.”

Emmy The Great Returns

Emmy The Great has announced news of her new solo album April /月音 released 9th October via Bella Union and available to preorder here. First single “Dandelions / Liminal” is a song about being OK with uncertainty, and learning to co-exist with your own sorrow, and the sorrows of the world. 

“My story begins with the moon. In September 2017, I travelled to Hong Kong from New York, where I’d lived for three years, for the Mid-Autumn festival. I was planning to visit my parents and take some time off to write my fourth album. I arrived in time for the full moon – Chang-E’s moon – at a time of year when the heat breaks and the city seems alive with possibility.

That Spring, I’d visited China and accidentally become somewhat fluent in Cantonese again, though the goal had been to speak Mandarin. I was there for a music residency, and had expected to feel an instant click. Instead, I realised that Hong Kong had an identity quite separate from the Mainland, and with my mother tongue reinstated, I was beginning to come to terms with that identity being a part of mine. This was tough – I was born in Hong Kong but I’ve always felt complicated about it.

Still, that Mid-Autumn, everything felt simple. Under the guidance of the moon, I walked the city – its neon-lit alleyways, its escalators and mountain paths. For a brief, precious moment, I fell into synch with Hong Kong. I felt its complex legacy and its tangled future. I felt the sorrow, alive in the buzz of neon and the drips of air-conditioner units, of a city caught between two destinies. It was twenty years since the Handover and the beginning of ‘One Country, Two Systems’. Everywhere I went, I saw people seeking to define their shared identity before it was too late. I hope some of that spirit has found its way into the songs, which were mostly written during that time.

The album was recorded over two weeks in February 2018 in the Creamery in Greenpoint. It’s the fastest record I’ve ever made, which is ironic because its release was later delayed to accommodate a year’s maternity leave. I produced it with Bea Artola and Dani Markham, who was in my US band and also played drums. Jeffrey Fettig, our guitarist, also engineered, and the rest of the players were mostly friends as well as musical collaborators. These sessions became a kind of goodbye, and I left New York for Hong Kong permanently a few weeks after they finished.

I’ll never know why the city called me back, but I know what it gave me. In return, I want to give it this album. That Mid-Autumn, nobody could have predicted what was to come, neither the atomisation that began with the anti-Extradition Law protests in June 2019, nor the struggle for democracy that continues now, through the Covid-19 pandemic. To witness your birth city in its greatest moment of need is a powerful, humbling event, and I know I watched Hong Kong’s destiny shift into something turbulent and uncertain. I’m glad I recorded what I felt there, during a precious, peaceful time, when life was so good that all I had to do was trust the moon. May it be just one small piece of witness among many, and may the voices of Hong Kong never stop speaking, and asking to be heard.” Emma-Lee Moss, London, July 2020

Since her third album was released in 2016, Emma-Lee Moss has worked as a critically-acclaimed composer for radio, TV, film and stage. Her credits include original songs for Starlee Kine’s groundbreaking US podcast ‘Mystery Show’; Sara Pascoe’s ‘Out of Her Mind’ for BBC2; Mia Lidofsky’s ‘Strangers’, which featured Girls’ Jemima Kirke as a singer-songwriter called ‘Emmy’. She also wrote music and libretto for Sara Pascoe’s stage adaptation of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ at the Nottingham Playhouse, and is working on HEEL, a new musical about female wrestling with the playwright Isley Lynn. 

As a journalist, she contributes writing to the Guardian, Vice, British GQ, Wired and others, and presented and composed music for ‘A Sailor Went to Sea Sea Sea’ for BBC Radio 4, nominated for the Prix Europa in 2019.