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.”