Lost Horizons & Midlake’s Tim Smith pair up

Today marks the return of one of Bella Union’s best-loved artists as Lost Horizons share their new track “Grey Tower” which features former Midlake singer Tim Smith on guest vocals. Taken from their upcoming LP In Quiet Moments, due out 26th February, the video for “Grey Tower” can be viewed below.

Of the track Simon Raymonde of Lost Horizons says: I have always gravitated towards voices that are doused with but preferably drowning in melancholy. When I heard Tim sing with Midlake for the first time in 2004, I was excited both by his abilities as an author, to create strange visionary characters within their own world, inhabiting these songs, and for the unique quality in his voice to move even the most cold-hearted soul. That I managed to tease another song out of him (Smith also contributed “She Led Me Away” on our debut Ojalá) as he works away on his long-awaited debut album with his new band Harp, feels almost wrong, but I know that when you are working alone on your own music you sometimes cannot see the wood for the trees, and having a new project to work on, can seem like a good idea. A break from the rituals. When I began recording this piece I think the music SCREAMED “yearning for Tim Smith” literally as the notes were playing themselves. We are blessed to have one of the most affecting voices in modern music grace our wee tune.” 

Tim Smith adds: “Honestly, it almost didn’t happen.  It should’ve been a breeze to sing over since the original backing track Simon and Richie made seemed so well suited for me. However, the search for the right melody was a big mystery, eluding me for weeks, till I nearly threw in the towel. Music never seems to come easy to me, so this was not unfamiliar territory.  An idea did finally strike in the final hours, allowing everything to fall into place.” 

In other news, Lost Horizons have also shared an extraordinary montage video filled with striking imagery for the track “Cordelia” directed by visionary filmmaker Jonathan Caouette, who also created the video for John Grant’s classic “Glacier”. Caouette says of the film: For me, “Cordelia” is a meditation on a mesh of feelings I think we’re all reflecting on right now: memory, loss, the interconnectedness of love and sadness, and the inescapability of impermanence.” 

In Quiet Moments features a stellar array of musical guests including John Grant, C Duncan, Marissa Nadler, Porridge Radio, Penelope Isles, Karen Peris (the innocence mission), Tim Smith (Midlake), Ren Harvieu and many more. The 16-track album will be released in two sections. The first half (8 tracks) will be released digitally 4th December with the second half and physical release following on 26th February 2021. 

In 2017, Simon Raymonde and Richie Thomas had both abstained from making music for 20 years until they united as Lost Horizons and released a stunning debut album, Ojalá – the Spanish word for “hopefully” or “God willing.” 

“These days, we need hope more than ever, for a better world.” Thomas said at the time. “And this album has given me a lot of hope. To reconnect with music…. And the hope for another Lost Horizons record!” 

Thomas’ hopes had a mixed response. On the plus side, the new Lost Horizons album In Quiet Moments is an even stronger successor to Ojalá with another distinguished cast of guest singers and a handful of supporting instrumentalists embellishing the core duo’s gorgeously free-flowing and loose-limbed blueprint that one writer astutely labelled, “melancholy-delia.” 

On the minus side, any hope for a better world, as Earth continues to freefall toward political and social meltdown. Then, to make matters worse, as Raymonde and Thomas buckled down to create the improvised bedrock that Lost Horizons is built on, the former’s mother died. At least Raymonde had a way to channel his grief. “The way improvisation works,” he says, “it’s just what’s going on with your body at the time, to let it out.”

In Quiet Moments has its pockets of loss but – aligned to the concept of ‘hope’ – the album is more about rebirth than death. “I think it’s more joyous than Ojalá,” says Thomas. “But both albums have a great energy about them.” 

Those energy levels undulate across a dazzling array of moods and voices; as broad as the name Lost Horizons sounds. Take the first three tracks: the melting rapture of ‘Halcyon’ featuring Jack Wolter of Bella Union signings Penelope Isles, the simmering urban-soulful ‘I Woke Up With An Open Heart’ featuring Nubiya Brandon of The Hempolics and the quintessentially melancholy-delic ‘Grey Tower’ featuring a returning Tim Smith . 

Also returning from Ojalá are Gemma Dunleavy, Karen Peris (the innocence mission), Cameron Neal (Horse Thief) and Marissa Nadler. The last three are all Bella Union family members; likewise, John Grant (the lush, choral ‘Cordelia’, etched by David Rothon’s pedal steel and Fiona Brice’s elegant strings) and Ren Harvieu (a sultry ‘Unravelling In Slow Motion’), and new signing Laura Groves (the jazz-tinged ‘Blue Soul’), all making their Lost Horizons debuts. 

Dana Margolin of the hugely acclaimed Porridge Radio lends the rampant ‘One For Regret’’ her trademark bristling energy; at the other end of the spectrum, ‘Flutter’ features Rosie Blair (of former Bella Union signing Ballet School) adding exquisite blue notes to a stark palate of Thomas’ piano and Fiona Brice’s strings. Deploying his A&R acumen, Raymonde called on new Swedish discovery Kavi Kwai for the Cocteaus-evoking ‘Every Beat That Passed’ (“You can’t make music for as long as I have and drop all your influences and habits overnight,” says Raymonde). Also present are Lily Wolter (of Penelope Isles) under her solo pseudonym KookieLou, and C Duncan. A richer and more varied cast list would be very hard to find. 

“I think In Quiet Moments is more in the direction of where we’re going,” Thomas concludes. “People have retreated into their lives and, in those quiet moments, reflected on the world, how we fit in and who we trust. Maybe the next album will be about rebellion! But the road is long and winding. We just need to express ourselves in how we feel at the time.” 

Lost Horizon have previously shared a video for track ‘I Woke Up With An Open Heart’ and recently announced news of a London live performance at the Scala in Autumn 2021. Tickets here.

The Flaming Lips perform ‘Assassins Of Youth’

Today, The Flaming Lips return with a celebratory video for their nostalgic, reflective single “Assassins of Youth” taken from their September-released psych-pop masterwork American Head. Directed by Wayne Coyne and filmed/edited by Blake Studdard for Atria Creative, the clip was filmed at a recent socially distanced performance the band gave in Oklahoma City where both band and crowd members were encased in plastic bubbles. The event itself has since gone viral attracting headlines around the world and extensively reported on CNN, NPR, NME, Noisey-Vice, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, Variety, Uproxx, The Today Show, Marc Maron WTF, ABC, NBC and more.

For years, Lips frontman Wayne Coyne has walked atop ecstatic crowds in a bubble. But in the interest of bringing back their spectacular live gigs safely, the band extended the tradition to fans. The video captures the unexpected joy of the endeavour, celebrating The Flaming Lips’ uncanny ability to bring people together, even in the midst of these strange times. It’s a thrill just to see a crowd jumping up and down in 2020, even if they all happen to be in plastic orbs. 

“Of course, our MAIN priority (when doing the performance for the music video) was making sure everyone was safe and all the health cautions were being enforced,” Coyne writes of the video. But there was a welcome side effect: “I forgot about how exciting and fun and ridiculous it is to do a Flaming Lips show!!! I think the video shows it!!!”

American Head is out now on Bella Union.

Hilang Child announces ‘Every Mover’

Having recently shared videos for the tracks ‘Good To Be Young’ and ‘Seen The Boreal’, today Hilang Child announces the release of his new album, Every Mover, out 8th January via Bella Union and available to preorder here. To mark the announcement Hilang Child has shared a video for new single “Anthropic (Cold Times)” of which he says: “Anthropic (Cold Times) is a summary of the album’s message: a pledge to break free from the chains of insecurity and social comparison, instead learning to love and appreciate the beauty around us and, most importantly, in ourselves. The chaos of 2020 has breathed a new meaning into it for me, which I never foresaw; I see in it a general statement of hope for a future in which we leave behind these difficult times and find unity. The DIY video features my brother Harley Riman and close friend Jack Dunn skateboarding on a couple of warm days back in the summer. It was edited by Jack and myself.”

“The greatest thing about being a musician is experiencing it with other people,” says Ed Riman, the Brighton-based Eurasian singer, songwriter and sound-scapist who records as Hilang Child. “Whether that’s playing with others, creating together, sharing a vision, whatever, I just think in all aspects it’s a totally elevated experience when you’re not alone.”

Proof rings out with force and feeling on Hilang Child’s superlative second album, Every Mover. In 2018, Riman delivered a serene, textured debut album in Years, rich in sound and feeling. Lauren Laverne, Q, MOJO and others lavished praise, but the “isolating process” of making the album left Riman hungry to find alternative ways of working. Meanwhile, the “lonely, pressured” aftermath of Years found Riman grappling with “rough self-esteem and anxiety issues”, amplified in part by social media’s ‘fulfilment narratives’. Duly, he set out to navigate and overcome these mindsets, drawing deeply on his own insecurities and those he recognised in others.

These themes converge emphatically on Every Mover, an album steeped in everyday emotional states and crafted for cathartic, communal performance. Drawing on a rich spread of collaborators, sounds and themes, Riman uses his frustrations as the impetus to transform the brimming promise of Years into upfront and expansive new shapes. “I wanted it to sound a bit gutsier than the first album,” he says, succinctly, “heavier and closer to the kind of stuff that hits me when I go to shows or blast music in the car. I started out in music as a drummer playing for pop or beat-driven artists and grew up listening to louder stuff, but a lot of the music I’ve made as Hilang Child has been more ethereal. I wanted to bring it back to a place that feels more ‘me’ and make more of a thing of having big hypnotic drums, aggressive bass, ripping distorted instruments and a general energy to it.”

“Good to be Young” serves swift notice of this leap, its banked synths and twinkling sound clusters leading to an assertion of fresh force when the main beat lands and a congregation of friends – AK Patterson, Paul Thomas Saunders, Dog in the Snow, Ellen Murphy, members of Penelope Isles – unite for the gang-vocal refrains. “It’s all iridescent colour I’m on,” Riman exults, a claim lived up to on the full-flush folktronica of “Shenley”. A reflection on spiralling insecurity, “Seen the Boreal” ups the ante again with its monk-ish chorales, looping samples, spectral woodwinds (from multi-instrumentalist John ‘Rittipo’ Moore, of Public Service Broadcasting and Bastille previous) and ecstatic chorus, Riman transforming a meditation on hindsight’s limiting effects into a spur to look forwards. And surge forwards he does with the glittering synths, spacey guitars, and Krautrock propulsion of “King Quail”, developed in jam sessions with dream-pop wonder Zoe Mead (Wyldest) in her basement studio.

Riman’s sounds are enriched wherever you turn, from the epic prog-tronica of “The Next Hold” to the vocal release and layered arrangement of “Play ’Til Evening”; a kind of summit meeting between Surrender-era Chemical Brothers and Fleet Foxes in the high church of ecstatic sound. The treated chorales of “Magical Fingertip” and naked lyrics of the festival-sized new single “Anthropic (Cold Times)” showcase a fertile push-pull of lush arrangements and wide-open emotions in Riman’s sound; on the latter, Rittipo’s horns brim with expressive power.

Brought to a sublime close with “Steppe”, the resulting album projects its own epiphanic force. The birth was not always smooth: due to Covid-19, tours were cancelled and studios closed. Thankfully, most of the main parts were recorded pre-lockdown between East London, Gateshead, Brighton, Wandsworth and elsewhere, before mixing proceeded remotely. Meanwhile, alongside indie-pop trio OUTLYA’s Will Bloomfield (percussion/co-production on ‘Play ’Til Evening’), visual design collective Tough Honey (accompanying videos) and other collaborators, Riman’s bond with co-producer JMAC (Troye Sivan, Haux, Lucy Rose) proved crucial. “It felt freeing to work collaboratively and have that push-and-pull of ideas,” says Riman. “Even the moments where we didn’t see eye-to-eye made it feel like I wasn’t alone, with someone else working just as passionately on the project.”

That sense of passion lights up Every Mover, an album that hymns the redemptive qualities of richly expressive music crafted in simpatico unison with friends. “I get told I’m quite an openly emotional person,” says Riman, “and I suppose the extremes in this album reflect that! But I also wanted the album to roughly follow the mental flow of feeling worthless, then recognising it, then accepting your shortcomings and trying to work on it, then coming out unscathed on the other side. I’m still not fully out of the spiral. The Covid apocalypse, alongside some personal life changes, have definitely caused it to resurface. But I’m glad I made this album as a kind of cathartic primer on trying to deal with it.” Now, time for other people to experience it too.

Landshapes share ‘Drama’ & ‘Let Me Be’

London outfit Landshapes today share two new tracks from their upcoming album Contact, due for release 20th November via Bella Union. According to the band, the first track ‘Drama’ is about  “the imbalance of emotional labour that can happen between men and women, and in those instances all the work women often have to do to manage and protect fragile egos. The Choruses offer something a bit more sympathetic.” Listen to ‘Drama’, which was premiered on Clash earlier today, via the link below…

The second track the band share today is titled ‘Let Me Be’ and is “an inside-out critique of white male self-entitlement set to a whirligig of organs, chants and fuzzy math-rock guitars.” Listen to ‘Let Me Be’ further below.

Loneliness, isolation, alienation, the need for connection and community. The salient themes of our times resonate with a haunting, predictive and vital power on the third album from London four piece Landshapes. 

Contact is an album that digs deep into the past, looks ahead to the future and burns with vivid life in the present, where its mind-expanding soundscapes, beguiling melodies and resonating emotions exude a tremendous in-the-moment vibrancy.

The title speaks clearly to the album’s themes, as intended. As Luisa Gerstein (vocals, synths) explains, “The working title for a long time was ‘Collapse’, but when we came around to naming it, and having the conversation from our respective isolation, we wanted to give it a name that was more hopeful, and about connectivity.  Dan suggested ‘Contact’ and it clicked – Contact with each other; contact with the wider world amidst its unravelling; music feels like a really essential part of that right now.” 

Contact took form after extensive touring for Landshapes’ second album, “Heyoon”, where the band’s shape-shifting hybrids of alt-folk, psychedelia, math-rock and more brimmed with brooding beauty. The desire to sustain the focused fluidity and elemental power of their live energy – honed from Green Man to End of the Road and beyond – compelled them to continue playing and writing together, with strict principles to light the way. As Heloise Tunstall-Behrens (bass, vocals) puts it, “We approached this album with the idea of creating more space, simplifying and allowing things to breathe. We also wanted to keep the songs briefer, with fewer deviations.” 

A few years later, Contact sustains those principles beautifully. The sulphurous sludge-rock guitars and depth-charged synths of “Rosemary” throb with a rapt intensity: while the lyrics reflect on ancestral DNA and the memory-stimulating powers of the titular herb, the physicality of the sound embodies a sense of the past living in the present, registered deep in the gut.  

Throughout, Landshapes equip their elemental intimations and exploratory themes with a palpable immediacy. “Siberia” is a psychedelic folk song of ice and fire, its forceful chants set to deliciously lopsided rhythms; direct and mysterious. Testifying to the band’s road-tested chemistry, loose grooves are executed with a limber precision. “Drama” sets its snapshot of, says Luisa, “the imbalance of emotional labour that can happen between men and women” to an alt-R&B funk drift. With Jemma Freeman (guitar, vocals) and Dan Blackett (drums) swapping instrumental roles, “The Ring” is mantric, romantic pop with a troubled heart, its seeming simplicity deceptive. “I suppose it was a love song at first,” says Heloise, “inspired by some friends getting married. For me, it evolved into a feeling of connection with the world and non-human species – a partnership upon which we tend to rely and take for granted but don’t appreciate all the time.” 

Elsewhere, moods and emotions deepen and diversify. “Real Love Is Dead” sets a tale of break-ups and Tinder to a misty synthetic backdrop. The spare, future-thinking “I’m Mortal” grapples with the question of giving birth in today’s world, treated vocals throwing its core human doubts into stark relief. For Luisa, the amniotic bliss-pop of “Dizzee” frames a reflection on “the specific experience of going to a queer people of colour club night for the first time, and feeling so ecstatic that the space existed, feeling at home, whilst simultaneously wrestling the feeling of being an imposter”.  

Look for evidence of the band’s live power and you will find them manifested forcefully on “Let Me Be”, an inside-out critique of white male self-entitlement set to a whirligig of organs, chants and fuzzy math-rock guitars. Born from a jam session on tour, the wordless harmonies and guitar-strafed lurches of “Just A Plug” add cathartic jolts of electricity. “It feels like a release and a chance to vent,” says Heloise, “even without lyrics the sentiment is there!” Finally, “Conductor” diverts that energy into a serene reverie on time and the body, its expansive imagery anchored in the immediacy of sensation. 

After the voyages of self-discovery on their 2013 debut, “Rambutan”, and the wide-open reach of “Heyoon”, Contact pays testimony to Landshapes’ questing spirit. Recorded live at Soup Studios when it was in Limehouse, the album’s freshness reflects a strict resistance to, says Luisa, “over-cooking in the studio”. New tools helped flesh out the soundscapes, Jemma notes: “actual synths”, a Boss Dr Rhythm drum machine, and fresh guitar pedals enrich the sonic palette without gratuitous studio interference. Meanwhile, storied sound wizard and producer Kwes became, says Heloise, “sort of a fifth member”, helping to take the songs “to a new realm”. 

As Jemma says, “We had a strong idea of wanting to keep a raw feel to the work, and that we wanted external ears to play a guiding influence and add a new voice once we had built the foundations. The sense of previous preciousness was something we could dispose of, as we had more confidence in our ability to play and write. I think it made us bold.”  

Happy Release Day Laura Veirs

The consistently brilliant Laura Veirs sees the release of her 11th studio album today and we are delighted for you all to hear it. The album features the previously released singles ‘Burn Too Bright’, ‘Turquoise Walls’ and ‘Another Space and Time’.

“My world was turned upside down in my divorce and it felt like ‘nothing new’ to be forced into further deep uncertainty with the pandemic. I was already prepped for the kind of thinking required for dealing with the unknown. Also, as an artist you always have to deal with that fact anyways since art is such a precarious way to make a living.”“My Echo is my 11th solo album. It’s my ‘my songs knew I was getting divorced before I did’ album. My conscious mind was trying as hard as I could to keep my family together but my subconscious mind was working on the difficult struggles in my marital life. I was part of a “Secret Poetry Group” that met and wrote poems monthly for a year during the writing of this record. Many of my poems turned into songs for this album. By the time the album was being mixed last fall, my ex-husband/producer Tucker Martine and I had decided to go our separate ways. We were a great musical team for many years but we struggled to be compatible in our marriage and family life and that struggle is reflected in this album.

In this new batch of songs I imagine escaping from some sort of prison or cage. Advancing age, the confines of domesticity, our oppressive government and the threat of the apocalypse permeate these songs. In these songs my heart craves certainty and permanence but none is to be found. It’s an album about disintegration. It reveals my artist’s intuition at work.

Although these songs were written before quarantine they are strangely relevant to times in which we find ourselves currently. You will find me staring at the walls (Turquoise Walls). You will find me feeling grateful to be alive (Memaloose Island). You will find me accepting the ephemeral nature of life (Vapor Trails and All the Things). You will find me searching for personal freedom while feeling trapped (Freedom Feeling). You will find me trying to accept that sometimes the best thing to do is to sit still and do nothing at all (Another Space and Time).

Produced by Tucker Martine in the summer and fall of 2019. My Echo features guest appearances from Jim James, Bill Frisell, Karl Blau, Matt Ward and others.”

Tim Burgess debuts ‘The Ascent Of The Ascended’

Having last month announced news of his new 6-track EP, Ascent Of The Ascended, and shared the beautiful lead track ‘Yours. To Be’, Tim Burgess today shares a video-of-the year contender for the EP’s title track, directed by Tim Pope. The video features our hero dressed in à la mode angel garb traversing rough terrain before taking to the skies in a microlight and flying off into the sunset… though no doubt returning home in time to host one of his legendary twitter listening parties.

Of the track and video Burgess says: “The Ascent of the Ascended – it’s about where we want to be, compared to where we find ourselves and how to bridge that gap. I sent the song to Tim Pope and he said he’d be up for making a video, his ideas really captured the atmosphere. It was quite a moment for me – I am a huge fan of Tim’s. Plus I got to fly and have a set of wings.”

The Ascent Of The Ascended EP contains two superb new tracks, “Yours. To Be”, and “The Ascent Of The Ascended”, recorded soon after his recent solo album was finished, as well as four tracks recorded in NYC back in March as a live session for Paste magazine. Three of the tracks are from I Love The New Sky alongside a new version of The Charlatan’s classic ‘The Only One I Know’.

Burgess says: “There was an energy that came from recording the album with such a brilliant band – I didn’t want it to end, I wanted to record a bit of a magnum opus, which is where Ascent of the Ascended came in. I’d always wanted to work with Charles Hayward from This Heat, so we gave him a ring and he said yeah. With “Yours. To Be” being almost like an instant feeling you get in a moment, very rarely in your life – the two songs are so different but they somehow complement each other. So an EP was the perfect idea. We had so many plans for playing live this year – from South by Southwest to Glastonbury and everything in between. But that wasn’t to be. We played four shows in New York before lockdown happened – so our session for Paste Magazine was such a rare event, we’ve included the songs to complete the EP.” 

Tim Burgess has also announced news of a tour for 2021. Full dates below…

April 2021 UK tour dates:

Monday 13th April – Dublin – Whelans *(SOLD-OUT!)*

Tuesday 14th April – Belfast – Ulster Sports Club

Thursday 16th April – Manchester – Night & Day *(SOLD-OUT!)*

Friday 17th April – Leeds – Brudenell Social Club *(SOLD-OUT!)*

Saturday 18th April – Manchester – Yes *(SOLD-OUT!)*

Monday 20th April – Kendal – Brewery

Tuesday 21st April – Glasgow – King Tuts *(SOLD-OUT!)*

Thursday 23rd April – Nottingham – Rescue Rooms

Friday 24th April – Cardiff – Clwb Ifor Bach

Saturday 25th April – Bristol – Thekla *(SOLD-OUT!)*

Monday 27th April – Birmingham – Hare and Hounds *(SOLD-OUT!)*

Tuesday 28th April – London – Oslo *(SOLD-OUT!)*

Wednesday 29th April – Portsmouth – Wedgwood Rooms