Deep Throat Choir Debut Album Title Track

With their new album In Order to Know You due out 3rd December via Bella Union, and having previously shared a video to lead track ‘Alchemilla’, Deep Throat Choir today share the LP’s beguiling title track. Of the track founder member Luisa Gerstein says: “In Order to Know You is a tender love song about the insufficiency of words sometimes. It also refers to the body of work – we make these songs in order to know each other more fully, and music as a whole is a means of understanding and communing with each other in a deeper way.”

“I’m reeling, I’m restless,” sing Deep Throat Choir from the heart of their second album. That restlessness manifests in a set of tremendously abundant, original songs from the east London female and non-binary vocal collective, founded by Landshapes member Luisa Gerstein. Released via Bella Union in December, In Order to Know You is a multi-layered assertion of freshly expansive range, driven by two core virtues: a sense of strength in unity and an open embrace of its singers’ personal experiences, shared through collective, supportive vocal expression. 

After 2017’s largely covers-based debut album, Be OK, the choir recognised the call to evolve. “Having been singing together for five-plus years, and having released an album of mostly covers, it felt like the logical next step to make our own music together,” says Gerstein. “This album is the alchemy of all the specific voices and players that make up the choir, and a collaborative process of writing and sharing music and ideas. Sonically, I wanted to move beyond just voices and percussion, to see what richness could be brought with instruments and electronics, and to transition from a choir that does covers to a band with loads of vocalists.” 

The rewards of that leap are immediately evident on first single ‘Alchemilla’, named after the herbaceous perennial. A testimony to the strength in vulnerability, it celebrates an openness to emotion across buoyant harmonies that “ebb and flow” like cool waves. With words by Heloise Tunstall-Behrens, Alice Freedman and Holly Turnbull, the song emerged from a jamming session in Margate and a conversation about masculinity. ‘Picturing’ is a spun-silk reflection on shared tenacity before tough circumstance, while the forceful voices and folksy guitars of ‘Uvas’ frame a lyric that testifies to the choir’s depths of personal experience.  

“This song is about my mum,” says Gerstein. “In Colombia you eat 12 grapes (uvas) at New Year’s to make 12 resolutions with. I was thinking about her resolve to move and travel to a faraway place, and a resolve and hunger that I feel she’s passed down to me. It’s about looking back at the generations before you, finding common threads that run through those histories, and all the bigger histories that are part of that tapestry, like ships on the sea and emeralds in the dirt (early conquistadors traded glass for emeralds with indigenous people).” 

A rolling piano buoys up ‘Lighter’, which channels Sun Ra’s influence into a song that upholds the support found in mutual connectivity. Meanwhile, the gorgeous swoon of ‘Patience’ again illuminates how individual singers’ experiences can take shape within the choir, to become something held by all. “I wrote ‘Patience’ as a kind of eulogy for my mum’s funeral,” says Rosa Slade. “Music for me was the easier way to express a combined and confusing feeling of grief and celebration of life. I joined Deep Throat a few months later and found the choir space brought such deep holding through song and collectivity. When Luisa began to compose and gather for the second album, it felt natural somehow for the song to be held by those voices too; so it could live by transforming into something new and shared; becoming multiple stories existing in unison.” 

From there, In Order to Know You heads towards its climax without seeming to touch the ground, from the title-track’s devotional exhalation to the stealthy, smoky shimmer of ‘Unstitching’. Its lyrics drawn from a poem by Emma Cleave, the sublime ‘Field of Not Knowing’ closes the album in a vivid tapestry of folk-gothic images and serene-to-soaring arrangements.

For Deep Throat Choir, the result is both a culmination of journeys taken so far and a lustrous springboard for further adventures. Their travels began in 2013, when the collective took shape from a desire to strip music back to the basic elements of raw voices and drums, united in a fashion that both honours and transmogrifies personal expression. A small group of four or five singers steadily expanded, with Zara Toppin’s drums providing a propulsive energy. Cathartic live shows and collaborations followed, ranging from team-ups with Peggy Sue, Stealing Sheep, Horse Meat Disco and Matthew E White to performances at Green Man, Wilderness, the Southbank Centre’s WOW festival, London’s Scala and beyond. A fruitful collaboration with techno-pop duo Simian Mobile Disco on the 2018 album Murmurations followed: a testament to the choir’s alchemical abilities. 

At a residency at the Prah Foundation, Margate, seeds were sown for the new songs. An increased confidence bloomed as the band pushed at its boundaries, an evolution aided by engineer Andy Ramsey and the vast range of the contributors’ musical talents. Emerging organically, the songs reflect the experiences and worlds of the singers who contributed to the writing process. Alongside soloists Tanya Auclair, Liv Stones, Holly Holden, Elly Condron, Miryam Solomon, Fikir Assefa, Maddie Rix, Rosa Slade, Heloise Tunstall-Behrens, Fran Lobo and Gerstein, new contributors included brass players Marcus Hamblett and Emma Gatrill, plus pianist Sam Beste. From within the choir, Kate Burn played cello, Sarah Anderson played violin/viola, Tunstall-Behrens played bass and Auclair contributed synth parts. Recording took place before lockdown; Gerstein produced, while Jimmy Robertson (Anna Calvi, Peggy Sue) mixed the record. 

The album title reflects that drive towards a kind of questing togetherness. “We made this music in order to know and understand each other more fully,” says Gerstein, “and that’s what music is in general. We’re saying it to each other, and to the listener.”

Penelope Isles share “Sudoku”

Penelope Isles, the project of UK-born and bred siblings, co-songwriters and co-vocalists Lily and Jack Wolter, recently announced Which Way To Happy, their sophomore album and follow-up to their 2018 debut Until The Tide Creeps In.  Which Way To Happy—which was produced by Jack, mixed by Dave Fridmann, and will be released on November 5th via Bella Union—has been previewed with single “Sailing Still,” and “Iced Gems,” and today the band shares another incredible record teaser with the psychedelic dream-pop single “Sudoku.” “‘Sudoku’ is probably the oldest song on the album. We used to play it in our old band, Your Gold Teeth, back on the Isle of Man when Lily and I first started making music,” Jack explains. “Dad loves a sudoku puzzle whilst he’s sat on the loo. So this one is for him! It’s a special song for us and we wanted to bring it back and play it with Penelope Isles.”

Jack and Lily spent much of 2019 driving through Europe and America with their bandmates, and, like many, felt everything was falling apart when COVID-19 put their upcoming plans to a halt. The duo, dealing with their own respective romantic heartaches, and coping with the loss of two band members who were replaced with Henry Nicholson, Joe Taylor, and Hannah Feenstra who contributed during recording,  (“A godsend after a low time,” says Lily) were staying in a small cottage in Cornwall to start work on the new album when lockdown began. Claustrophobia kicked in, existential anxiety over the pandemic permeated everything, and emotions ran high. “We were there for about two or three months, ultimately,” says Jack. “It was a tiny cottage and we all went a bit bonkers, and we drank far too much, and it spiralled a bit out of control. There were a lot of emotional evenings and realisations, which I think reflects in the songs. Writing and recording new music was a huge part of the recovery process for all of us.

”The result is an intoxicating leap forward for the Brighton-based band, following the calling-card DIY smarts of their 2019 debut, Until the Tide Creeps In. Sometimes it swoons, sometimes it soars. Sometimes it says it’s OK to not be OK. Pitched between fertile coastal metaphors and winged melodies, intimate confessions and expansive cosmic pop, it transforms “difficult second album” clichés into a thing of glorious contrasts: a second-album surge of up-close, heartfelt intimacies and expansive, experimental vision. 

Marissa debuts “If I Could Breath Underwater”

Last month, Marissa Nadler announced The Path of the Clouds, her ninth studio album, out 29th October via Bella Union / Sacred Bones. Today, she presents “If I Could Breathe Underwater,” the album’s second single/video following ‘Bessie, Did You Make It?’ “If I Could Breathe Underwater” is a lush, cinematic composition with a pulsing rhythm and serpentine bass hooks. It features harp from Mary Lattimore, one of Nadler’s long-time friends. “When I wrote ‘If I Could Breathe Underwater,’ I was contemplating the possibilities of possessing various superhuman powers: teleportation, shapeshifting, energy projection, aquatic breathing, extrasensory perception, and time travel to name a few,” says Nadler. “As a lyrical device, I married those powers with events in my life, wondering if and how they could change the past or predict the future. I loved working on the melody for this song and bringing the choruses to their climaxes. Mary’s layered, hallucinatory shimmers really echo the netherworld of the story.”


The accompanying video, beautifully directed and edited by Jenni Hensler with cinematography by Nick Fancher, serves to create a preternatural world where Nadler changes the colours of the sky and the water, floats weightlessly through seas, and becomes one with layers of colour and ink. It was shot on 16mm film (with the exception of the underwater shots). “This song took on many meanings to me and I love that about it. How beauty and tragedy collide,” says Hensler. “Dreaming of having supernatural powers to change reality and have the ability to live and breathe underwater. It could also speak to the duality of existence. That we all have inner personas or shadow selves, and how we envision those different masks we wear. I chose to make something that touched on the idea of duality and the inner persona. To connect to the two worlds.”

The Path of the CloudsMarissa Nadler’s ninth solo album, is the most stylistically adventurous, lyrically transfixing, and melodically sophisticated collection of songs in her already rich discography. Gripped by wanderlust while suddenly housebound at the start of the pandemic in 2020, Nadler escaped into writing, and came back with a stunning set of songs about metamorphosis, love, mysticism, and murder. Blurring the line between reality and fantasy and moving freely between past and present, these 11 deeply personal, self-produced songs find Nadler exploring new landscapes, both sonic and emotional. 

One of Nadler’s distractions during the 2020 quarantine was binging reruns of Unsolved Mysteries. As she watched, she began to notice parallels between many of its stories and her own life. What began as a writing exercise became the bedrock of her songwriting process, as she came to inhabit the narratives that had so fascinated her. In “Bessie, Did You Make It?,” Nadler inverts the canon of the murder ballad, crafting a narrative of female empowerment and survival. “The Path of the Clouds” tells the story of the infamous hijacker D.B. Cooper, but the song isn’t just about jumping out of an airplane, faking your death, and making a grand exit. It’s a meditation on perseverance and transformation, a salute to mastering one’s fate. “Well, Sometimes You Just Can’t Stay” details the ingenious plans of the only successful escapees from Alcatraz, as well as the lingering enigma that surrounds their history. The lyrical twist on the chorus turns a tale about a prison break into a humorous, shoegazing country song.

While she’s always been a brilliant guitarist, Nadler challenged herself to expand her palette for The Path of the Clouds, experimenting with synthetic textures that make the album feel untethered from time and space. A majestic grandeur sweeps through songs such as “Elegy,” shooting the listener into the stratosphere as synths swirl and entwine with Nadler’s celestial mezzo-soprano. Nadler also learned to play piano during the pandemic’s isolation, and she composed many of the songs on the album on keys rather than guitar, which further contributed to their exploratory feel. These songs are unmistakably Marissa Nadler’s, but they sound free to go places she’s never gone before. 

Nadler tracked the skeletons of the songs at home and then sent them to some choice collaborators, including experimental harpist Mary Lattimore and Simon Raymonde, the Cocteau Twins bassist and her Lost Horizons collaborator. Multi-instrumentalist Milky Burgess, having recently worked on the soundtrack to the film Mandy, adds intricate melodic power throughout the album. Jesse Chandler, Nadler’s piano teacher (as well as a member of Mercury Rev and Midlake), plays winding woodwinds and plaintive piano to luminous effect. Fellow singer-songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle contributes a slinky guitar solo on “Turned Into Air,” while Black Mountain’s Amber Webber steps in as a vocal foil to Nadler, a ghostly apparition in the distance of “Elegy.” 

Seth Manchester, known for his work with Lingua Ignota, Battles, and Lightning Bolt, mixed the album at Machines with Magnets in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Manchester added dimension to the songs’ atmospheric beauty with screeching feedback and distorted guitars. Stripped of the ethereal reverb that often swaddles her resonant vocals, Nadler’s delivery now stings and pierces with newfound immediacy and confidence. 

As a songwriter, Nadler is as direct and urgent as she has ever been. There’s no coded language amid the bleak lows and exalted highs of songs like “Elegy,” “Lemon Queen,” “Storm,” and “Tried Not to Look Back.” Memories are painted with highly detailed imagery, and Nadler, also a visual artist, uses that eye not only to tell a story but to transport the listener there. 

The Path of the Clouds showcases the power of an artist at the peak of her powers nearly 20 years into an acclaimed career as a songwriter and singer. Coming a long way from the spare dream folk of her earlier work, she has remained inspired and continues to evolve, open to new ideas and directions. The proof is right here, in Nadler’s most ambitious and complex album yet. 

Marissa Nadler will play a record release show at Le Poisson Rouge in New York City on 14th November.

Karen Peris shares “Superhero”

With her new solo album A Song Is Way Above The Lawn due for release 8th October via Bella Union, and having previously shared a video for first single ‘I Would Sing Along’, today Karen Peris shares another spellbinding video for new single “Superhero” featuring her beguiling hand-drawn animation. Of the track Peris says: In praise of the kindness and open-heartedness of kids and of all the people I most admire. The scenes are of walking in a city and of a trip to the zoo. Written on piano but my family plays on this song with me: Anna and Drew play viola and violin, and Don plays drums and upright bass.

“I like that it’s possible to re-travel some of the wide open expanse of childhood imagination and wonder. The thing is, I don’t really feel that far away from those places even now, and I’m sure that’s a universal thought. The moments I’m telling about in the songs, and the wonder and the curiosity – I still feel so much of it, just as anyone does. I didn’t want to be an adult saying to a child, This is how you feel. It’s more like saying, just as a person talking with another person, Isn’t this how we all feel, and isn’t that a mystery of life, too, that we are all so connected? So, most of the songs are written in the first person.”

Singer, instrumentalist, and songwriter Karen Peris is talking about the ten compositions on her new album, A Song Is Way Above the Lawn. Written over a period of seven years, these songs make an especially melodic collection of beautifully rendered moments that will resonate with both children and adults. They offer a joy that is often poignant, thanks in part to Peris’ voice and poetry, and to the emotional, sometimes cinematic nature of the piano, central to the album’s sound. Her other instrumentation, chamber-like, with pump organ, accordion, and melodica, along with occasional nylon string and electric guitars, is spacious, allowing room for the listener’s own imagination. With the help of her husband Don Peris, who plays drum kit and upright bass, and their son and daughter, who contribute violin and viola to three songs, she has made a timeless album that has a rare and particular atmosphere of its own.

Journalists and fellow musicians have long written warmly about the singing and songwriting of Karen Peris with her band the innocence mission, which she started in high school with Don Peris. Her lyrics have been called ‘profound’ by Sufjan Stevens, and ‘engaging’ by Natalie Merchant; NPR music critic Lars Gotrich has spoken of the ‘supreme detail’ of her poetry. With A Song Is Way Above the Lawn, she has combined music and words with her own illustration, to make a sort of picture book in record album form. Throughout, there is an enormous tenderness expressed, for children and families, for the natural world, and for the miraculousness of everyday life. “You know how, if we take a tiny moment of a day and really look into it, it can sort of widen out and we can see how much it holds – I like thinking about that,” she explains, “and of how it can even be a moment when we’re waiting for something else to happen, that can end up being the most memorable.” The entirety of “This Is a Song in Wintertime” is devoted to a single moment when the narrator is waiting in line, outside with her family, and it begins to snow. “And all the people in line start remarking about the snow and we realize a connectedness,” Karen relates, “and strangers talk to us and there’s this feeling, like we all arrived there together, in a sense.” 

A Song Is Way Above the Lawn also reflects a love of reading and public libraries, of walking in the companionship of trees, and of the sense of possibility felt in listening to the first sounds of the day. The latter is the subject of the album’s title song. Animals – elephants, giraffes, lions, birds, and dogs – walk in and out of the album, occasionally appearing as imaginary friends in times of solitude. About “I Would Sing Along”, Karen relates, “I heard a biologist talking this year about elephants. And she said that elephants do a kind of singing, almost subsonically, but if she listened very closely she could hear it”. Much of the album celebrates an attentiveness to the world and to the lives around us, from the luminous opening track, “Superhero”, in praise of the kindness and open-heartedness of kids and of all the people she most admires, to the closing lullaby, “Flowers”.