Lost Horizons Share New Single “Florida”

Lost Horizons have today shared a video for a dreamy new standalone single “Florida” featuring the vocals of KookieLou aka Lily Wolter from Penelope Isles. Of the track and video Lily comments: “Like most videos my brother Jack and I make, this one was most certainly trial and error. A lot of the time we find ourselves surrounded in a jungle of paints, flowers, glitter, string, lava lamps and makeshift green screens and say, ‘what have we gotten ourselves into?’ Despite the hours of drawings and the former attempts to make something that suited the trance-like, flowing, softness of the song, we got there in the end! The lyrics are about a time I spent on tour in America a few years back. We wanted to show an abstract journey overlooking all sorts of weird and wonderful views. I’ve always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon, but I reckon it would be pretty damn scary. Big thanks to our mum for assisting with the papier-mâché balloons, to our dear friend Josh for the helping hand, and to Lost Horizons for wanting me to sing on their music, I’m once again, truly honoured.”

In other news, due to unforeseen circumstances, Lost Horizons have been forced to reschedule their headline Scala show that was due to take place next week. The show, which will feature a multitude of guests including John Grant, C Duncan, Porridge Radio, Penelope Isles, Laura Groves, Ren Harvieu and many more, will now take place in June 2022.

To celebrate the 31st anniversary of Cocteau Twins’ Heaven or Las Vegas, Simon Raymonde is launching a prize draw of exclusive memorabilia from some of his many prestigious music projects to help raise funds for The Clock Tower Sanctuary. This organisation is dedicated to helping provide a safe space for 16-to-25 year olds who are homeless in and around Brighton, UK. They provide a place where young vulnerable individuals can feel safe and also have access to much needed services and support. All funds raised through this prize draw go to help continue their amazing mission. Enter HERE.

Deep Throat Choir share “Uvas”

With their new album In Order to Know You due out 3rd December via Bella Union, and having previously shared videos to the tracks ‘Alchemilla’ and ‘In Order to Know You’, Deep Throat Choir today share a beguiling new track, “Uvas” from the LP. Commentiing on the track founder member Luisa Gerstein says: “Uvas refers to the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight to signal in the new year.  It is a song about all the histories that we inherit, from the tectonic to the minuscule. The soloist is Fikir Assefa.” 

Following last night’s sold-out show at St Pancras Old Church Deep Throat Choir will again perform in London at the Bella Union Winter Wonderland concert at the Union Chapel on Saturday 11th December alongside C Duncan and Laura Groves. All profits from the event will go to www.project17.org.uk and www.biduk.org.

“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.”

Happy Release Day Karen Peris

Bella Union are thrilled to share with you today, A Song Is Way Above The Lawn, the new solo album from the innocence mission’s Karen Peris, available here.

“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”.

Marissa Nadler debuts “Couldn’t Have Done The Killing”

Marissa Nadler today reveals the new single / video, “Couldn’t Have Done The Killing”, from her forthcoming album, The Path of the Clouds, out 29th October via Bella Union / Sacred Bones. “Couldn’t Have Done the Killing” is an ominous follow-up to  ‘Bessie, Did You Make It?’ and ‘If I Could Breathe Underwater’. Nadler’s voice sounds otherworldly over distorted guitars as she pleads, “Leave your weapons at the door // You don’t need them, you don’t need them // Cause I’m not your killer anymore.” As Guitar World points out, “​​no-one on Earth is better equipped to write a gothic murder ballad – or flip one on its head – than Marissa Nadler.” The accompanying video, directed by Tyler Derryberry and Christen Dute, pays homage to iconic TV series such as Unsolved Mysteries and In Search of…

“When Marissa came to us to make a video for a song on her new album, we were already aware of the album’s themes and her inspirations,” explain Derryberry and Dute. “While she was writing and recording the album sequestered at home during the pandemic, we stayed in touch, sharing our media diet of true crime and the paranormal.”

“The settings of Massachusetts and Maine appropriately enhanced the New England vibe of our and Marissa’s tone. Cabins older than the Great Depression and cemeteries older than the Revolutionary War are everywhere. Apartment buildings where college students still live today were the scenes of murders fifty years ago. Everybody seems to own an axe. We even did some shooting in Cumberland County, Maine, where Stephen King’s fictional town of Salem’s Lot is located. Turn on the camera, point it at the dark, and the witchiness just seems to seep in on its own.”

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.

John Grant shares “Just So You Know” visuals

Having just completed a sold-out UK tour John Grant today shares a beautiful interpretation of his song, “Just So You Know”, from his acclaimed fifth album Boy From Michigan. The video features some extraordinary krump dancing from its director and star, Brian Henry aka Hallow Dreamz.

Commenting on the video John Grant says: “Very excited to share this new video with you. I’ve been looking for an opportunity to work with the incredible Krump dancer and teacher Brian Henry (aka Hallow Dreamz) since I worked with him on the video for Voodoo Doll many years ago and I’m so happy to finally have the chance to do that. Brian directed the video together with Kash Gaines of Yak Films. I wanted them to interpret the song as they saw fit and love what they’ve created. Enjoy!”

Dancer/Director Brian Henry aka Hallow Dreamz adds: “I believe that this song and video inspires people to embrace the love their mother has for them as well as the love we have for our mother’s, without it being lessened by their imperfections. No one is perfect and I know that imperfection includes me as well. Please watch this work of art with your mother in mind, in heart and/or right beside you.”

Boy From Michigan affirms John Grant as one of the great singer-songwriters of our time. If there’s a centre ground between the songcraft of Elton John and the sonic experimentalism of Kraftwerk then Grant claims itfor his own. His fifth solo album is a work of great power and beauty.” Daily Telegraph – 4 stars **** (Album Of The Week)

Boy From Michigan is Grant’s futuristic vision of his past, filtered through his bleak, witty, lacerating worldview. And it is a delight.” The Times – 4 stars **** (Album Of The Week)

Boy From Michigan has the American fusing the piano-led chamber pop of his early releases with the jagged electronica of his more recent work. Produced by Cate Le Bon, it is dependably doleful and caustic as the singer shines unforgiving light on his troubled upbringing and the cruel joke that is the American dream. On ‘Mike and Julie’, clarinet and synth decorate a lyric about Grant’s first lover, with tenderness and regret coming together in one of his most beautiful melodies.” Sunday Times – Album Of The Week

Boy From Michigan is Grant in panoramic mode, looking back and looking forward to create his biggest picture yet.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“Vangelis meets Harry Nilsson” Uncut – 8/10

“An expansive and frequently exquisite summation of Grant’s storytelling powers… Boy From Michigan develops as a multi-layered and resonant coming-of-age story-in-songs… These songs cut to the quick with character and feeling, wit and precision.” Record Collector – 4 stars ****

“He takes the idea of pop-as-autobiography to new heights on his remarkable new record” The i News – 4 stars ****

“Formative memories weigh heavy on the dreamy, clarinet-haunted textures of Mike and Julie; the lush, impressionistic amble through the stalls on County Fair, couched in Cocteau Twins guitar glimmer and Beach Boys harmonies, and the Scott Walker-esque piano melancholy of The Cruise Room.” The Observer

“Wildly ambitious and emphatically realised, the new songs represent an ideal marriage of Grant’s strengths – soaring piano-led balladry and angular, rhythmic synth workouts.” The Sun – 4 stars ****

“A brooding reflection on childhood, the auteur expertly taps into Eno and Moroder for sonic inspiration.” Sunday Express – 4 stars ****

“John Grant excels at looking backwards in his songs. His voice is warm and resonant, rising and falling in time to the music like the tidal pull of memories. Luxuriant melodies cast a golden glow over these songs while analogue synthesisers pulse and swoosh like vintage time-travelling contraptions.” Financial Times

“A gorgeously observed working through of personal and national demons.” Loud & Quiet

“A record filled with retro synths and Grant’s lush vocals… Engrossing and bewitching.” Classic Pop

“A beauty… this meditation on an American life holds nothing back” HiFi Choice – 4 stars ****

Ren Harvieu shares “Cry On Me”

Ahead of a 15-date UK tour that begins early next month, Ren Harvieu today shares a video for a stirring new single, “Cry On Me”, released this week via Bella Union. Of the track Harvieu says: “It can literally feel like the end of the world when a long-term relationship has entered into that knowing apocalyptic phase. This song is a plea for emotional truth, even if it’s difficult, I’m prepared to be the strong one if I need to be. It was one of the first songs I wrote with Romeo and though we were both going through difficult times in our lives separately we managed to make something beautiful and healing. The song’s cinematic production made even more technicolour by Sally Herbert’s soaring string arrangement.”

“Cry On Me” comes accompanied with a music video directed by song-writing partner Romeo Stodart and filmed in the glamorous seaside town of Southend-on-Sea.

Critical acclaim for Revel In The Drama, Ren Harvieu’s most recent album, released last year via Bella Union:

“A record that propels Harvieu back under the spotlight as a grown-up pop force with weaponised survival instincts… The music gleams with a steely determination to be heard… Golden-age glamour, neon-smeared Hollywood strings and propane-fuelled torch songs… The stars, finally, seem to be right where she wants them.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“A triumphant return… This is a brilliant second act.” Q – 4 stars ****

“Woozy, cinematic songs full of yearning and vulnerability… Her rich voice remains the star… This is an impressive set.” The Observer – 4 stars ****

“An exquisite return for an exceptional voice.” The Telegraph – 4 stars ****

“An album that puts her rich, romantic voice against a glamorous 1950s ballad setting… This is a celebratory, joyous return.” The Times – 4 stars ****

“Evoking smoky jazz clubs, 1960s spy-thriller soundtracks and a seductive Dusty Springfield, this superb comeback from the Salford singer is as glamorous as home listening gets. She swoons on torch songs, swoons through theatrical storytellers and flirts up a storm on Teenage Mascara.’” Sunday Times

“Gorgeously uplifting… Harvieu’s voice is as vividly beautiful as ever.” Mail On Sunday – 4 stars **** (Album of the Week)

“Irrespective of it’s grounding in 60s and 70s soul-pop, Revel In The Drama is thrillingly fresh… This album confirms Harvieu should always have been in the driving seat.” The i – 4 stars ****

“A triumph… This life-affirming dose of dreamy retro pop confirms her great talent and lovely, silky voice.” The Sun – 4 stars ****

“The sweet melodies fit Ren’s songwriting shift to uplift and empowerment perfectly… A handsome return.” Daily Mirror – 4 stars ****

“A set of lush and rapturous retro pop tunes that lives up to its title… A decade later than anyone envisioned, here she is, in her pomp, all that she was meant to be.” Metro – 4 stars ****

“Truly transformative… Ren Harvieu’s second album is something of a rebirth: a rich, gothic record, steeped in sensuality.” Uncut

“Harvieu returns at last… Strange Thing’s a string-adorned, dynamic carnival and Cruel Disguise’s twanging guitars and growling organs confirm it’s titles dark dramas… Her rich, empathetic vocal swoops gracefully from note to note.” Classic Pop – 4 stars ****

“A sumptuous collection of lavishly orchestrated songs of love and loss. Reminiscent of the golden age of Sixties pop, it’s sung with passion and filled with melodrama. The songs conjure ghosts of Burt Bacharach while Harvieu’s voice evokes the husky soul of Dusty Springfield, the velvety warmth of Karen Carpenter and, when required, the sheer power of Shirley Bassey.” Louder Than War