Philip Selway Returns With New Album “Strange Dance”

Philip Selway returns with new solo album featuring guest appearances from Hannah Peel, Adrian Utley, Quinta, Marta Salogni, Valentina Magaletti and Laura Moody.

Philip Selway has announced news of his new album Strange Dance released 24th February via Bella Union and available to preorder here. To accompany the announcement Selway has shared a visualizer for beguiling lead track “Check For Signs Of Life”.

When Philip Selway approached some of his favourite musicians to play on his third solo record he said he imagined it as a Carole King record if she collaborated with the pioneering electronic composer Daphne Oram and invited him to drum on it. Unsurprisingly they were all sold, and so began the bringing together of an extraordinary number of gifted people, including Hannah Peel, Adrian Utley, Quinta, Marta Salogni, Valentina Magaletti and Laura Moody. 

Foregrounding this remarkable union of musical voices was 10 songs written by Selway at home on piano and guitar that show him at the height of his songwriting powers. From the opening track, Little Things, we immediately hear a new sense of scale. Following the acoustic Familial, his first solo album, then Weatherhouse (slightly more fleshed-out, as he puts it, working with Adem Ilhan and Quinta), Strange Dance sees Selway using all the craft and learning he has gathered over the last decade of solo work outside of Radiohead. 

This rich sonic broadness is constructed with a blend of strings, brass and synthesised sounds. “The scale of it was very deliberate for me, from the outset,” he says. “I wanted the soundscape to be broad and tall but somehow get it to wrap around this intimate vocal at the heart of it”. This cinematic effect makes sense given Selway’s most recent creative work, including writing scores for the Rambert Dance Company and soundtracks for the films Let Me Go and Carmilla.

The richness of the record is augmented by Selway’s long-time relationships with musicians such as the cellist Laura Moody and Quinta, a central figure in his work, and newer partnerships, such as with Adrian Utley. There was a really lovely dynamic. Ideas happened easily. It was a really nice rapport between us all. “

The production by Marta Salogni is stunning: both sensitive and gleeful in its celebration of sound. When they were recording at Evolution Studios, the abstract painter Stewart Geddes came down to soak up the atmosphere in the studio, and created a spectacular series of impressionistic paintings in response to the music, one of which is the album artwork.

Selway – known predominantly as one of the most celebrated drummers in the world, playing in Radiohead for decades – actually “sacked” himself from the drums within a couple of hours of recording. Instead, Valentina Magaletti brought her “distinctive voice” to the drums and percussion. Another vital voice is the arrangements by Laura Moody which complement Salogni’s production. On What Keeps You Awake At Night, for example, the strings and synths spool out deliciously, in a meditative loop, taking the listener somewhere far away, and then six minutes in, a new texture appears, staccato-like rain drops adding to the whirl.

This sonic expressiveness is played beautifully by the LCO, conducted by Robert Ames, the Assemble Choir with arrangements by Juliet Russell, and the Elysian Collective. 

As Strange Dance unfurls, it takes the listener through different weathers and seasons. Picking Up Pieces is driven by the motorik pulse of  Utley’s guitar before bursting into a voluptuous sunlit chorus. The Other Side is a graceful, shiver-giving ballad which melts into a sensuous middle eight. Each song carries varied and diverse shades and textures of emotion. Lyrically, it is artful. Selway has a gift at writing heartfelt lyrics which could relate to any number of human experiences. 

“One of the things I’ve liked about this record is it’s me as a 55-year-old not trying to hide that fact,” says Selway. “It feels kind of unguarded rather than seeing that ageing process as something that needs to be hidden.” And there is a buoyancy and warmth to the record; a sense of optimism and hope. “I wanted it to have that space so if you’re listening to it you can lose yourself in it,” he says. “Almost like a refuge.”

A few minutes into the album closer There’ll Be Better Days a new motif appears, as if a rainbow is appearing in the sky: rain and sun, hope and despair, life and death, and, in all of it, a celebration of the power of music, to accompany us all on this strange dance of life on earth.

Helen Ganya shares album opener “i will hold that hand for you”

Ahead of her performance at London’s Paper Dress Vintage tonight, Helen Ganya today shares a striking video for i will hold that hand for you, the captivating opening track from her upcoming album polish the machine out 18th November via Bella Union. The music video was created by filmmaker and video artist Sapphire Goss who mixes analogue and digital to create grainy, shimmering and otherworldly visuals. Goss took the ideas behind the song and created a cold, metallic, liquid dystopian landscape held together by the warming sentiment at the heart of the song. 

Helen Ganya upcoming live dates:

Tuesday 25th October – London – Paper Dress Vintage

3rd – 6th November – Taiwan – LUCFest

Wednesday 7th December – Brighton – Folklore Rooms

13th – 19th March – Austin, Texas – SXSW 2023

Approaching a new decade in age can bring with it a sort of existential search for meaning. As we grasp at reflections and try to draw a line into a new phase, expectations can be amplified, leaving us reeling in the wake of some unobtainable self. For Helen Ganya, entering her thirties made her question and pull away from the heteronormative social constructs that surround us. On her new album polish the machine, the Brighton-based songwriter stretches away from the suburban nightmare, seeking a cathartic reprieve that looks beyond the ordinary. “I was looking to the truth of removing any expectations that we’ve acquired along the way,” she says.

Previously performing under the moniker Dog in the Snow, Ganya’s 2017 album Consume Me (Battle Worldwide) introduced a meticulous and elegant voice, while 2019 album Vanishing Lands (Bella Union) – inspired by the striking imagery in a period of vivid dreams – utilised swirling dream-pop and haunting post-punk to present an eerie, unflinching look at the often nightmarish reality of the present world. polish the machine leans further into Ganya’s interiority, but refuses to succumb to despondency, instead pursuing a platform for community and tentative optimism. Here, the constraints of societal roles are loosened to encourage a different route: a wandering, ever-evolving path. “I’ve always slightly feared the ordinary,” Ganya explains. “It never really represented how I feel and how many people feel.”

This sentiment introduces the album, as Ganya utters “I had a fear of the ordinary” on the glistening electro-pop opener “I will hold that hand for you.” Inspired by sculptor Harriet Hosmer and her piece Clasped Hands of Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Ganya strives for community in an ever-isolated existence. “What we aspire to is to have human connection,” she explains. “I was drawn to this idea of setting the truth of something before it collapses. Setting this connection in stone.” Through staccato percussion and fluttering electronica, “I will hold that hand for you” pierces through the veil of societal stagnation. Elsewhere, “afterparty” further advocates vulnerability, while brooding horns and a climactic sonic crescendo imitate the overwhelming feelings that often overtake us during those moments of in-between, of unknowing. “I envisioned this actual space of disappointment,” she adds. “But I’m here, still hoping for something better.”

On the propulsive “young girls never die” hammering synths and haunting electronic strums create a canvas for an aggrieved Ganya who delivers a biting declaration towards the patriarchal norms of today: “Young girls never die, we just rot inside.” “The individual girl is often not allowed to grow,” she explains. “Instead there’s this sort of festering.” Later, the album’s title track delves deeper into the idea of lost autonomy, as all-encompassing, repetitive melodies mimic the hands of a puppeteer. The track features a looping bass line, fed through a Roland MC-202, that was created after the bass became stuck. Rather than trying to fix it, Ganya and her co-producer Rob Flynn decided to lean into the mistake. “It’s this idea of not being precious and counteracting the puppetry of what we’re supposed to be doing with our lives” she says.

This open-minded approach offers much of the foundation for polish the machine. By loosening the grip of perfection, Helen Ganya makes room for the unexpected, where our different selves can be explored. Here, she surrenders to all there is to feel, crafting a window into a world where the universal existential pull is acknowledged but not permitted to overwhelm. polish the machine creates connection by offering an evocative, electronically-charged deliverance, where we can aim to liberate ourselves from the fear, anger and anxiety that so often isolates us through a kind of cathartic communion.

Sophie Jamieson Debuts “Runner”

With her debut album Choosing due for release 2nd December via Bella Union, and having previously shared the tracks “Sink” and “Downpour”, today Sophie Jamieson shares LP highlight “Runner”. Commenting on the track Jamieson says: “This song is a note to self, not to leave the body just when things are getting hard. It’s catching yourself, looking yourself straight in the eye and in that honest moment there comes real life, real release, real joy. I wanted this song to feel like the heart opening up and all the colours coming out.”

Additionally, Jamieson has announced a number of new live dates including a performance at Mutations Festival in Brighton and an album release day show at Rough Trade West in London. Dates/info below:

Friday 28th October – Nottingham – The Metronome

Thursday 3rd November – London – EartH (Bella Union 25th Anniversary show)

Saturday 5th November – Brighton – Mutations Festival

Friday 2nd December – London – Rough Trade West (album launch show)

Released via her new home at Bella Union, Choosing is a strikingly personal document of a journey from a painful rock bottom of self-destruction, to a safer place imbued with the faint light of hope. It’s an album that sings openly of longing and searching, of trying, failing, and trying again – and always and throughout, the strength of love in so many varying forms.

Following on from the pair of EPs she released in 2020, Choosing finds its own shape by a subtle reforming of Jamieson’s sound into something both organic and simpler. Sophie describes the songs on those two EPs as “black holes” and while Choosing covers similar ground it never takes its eye away from what lies beyond, never fully releases its grip even when everything is telling her to let go. 

“The title of this album is so important,” Sophie explains. “Without it, this might sound like another record about self-destruction and pain, but at heart, it’s about hope, and finding strength. It’s about finding the light at the end of the tunnel, and crawling towards it.”

Produced and engineered by long-time collaborator Steph Marziano (Ex:Re, Lapsley, Hayley Williams) and mixed by Isabel Gracefield, Choosing asks the listener to look deep within their own selves, to show them that they can take whatever pain they’re experiencing, and choose, to some extent, how they let it affect them; whether they let it burn them down or whether they choose to look it straight in the face. 

Happy Release Day Fiona Brice

Today, Fiona Brice releases her new album And You Know I Care via Bella Union. To celebrate the moment Brice has shared a beautiful live video of album highlight “We Rise We Fall”. Commenting on the track Brice says: “Humanity seems to progress and regress in historical waves… We have the potential to be so much better, but we never seem to get there. Eventually the wave breaks, and backwards we go. On a personal level I’d say this song is about choosing to embrace life’s fluctuations, instead of existence feeling like one long terrifying white knuckle ride. Whether this is Zenist or brutally nihilist depends on the day.”

“A meditative refuge… Brice’s vocal contributions lift this above much New Classical fare, with ‘We Rise We Fall’ tenaciously uplifting, ‘Nocturnal’ borne aloft on choral voices, and ‘Today Will Be Different’ a balm for challenging times.” Uncut

“Seasoned arranger-composer reaches for the heavens… Whose God Are You? suggests an immersion in the work of Arvo Pärt… A Bach étude-like piano figure sets the scene for a spectral voice and undulating strings… These subtle creations beg to be performed in a sympathetic setting so they can fully take flight.” MOJO

“I wanted to make a record that was meditative, compassionate, calm and reflective, as a reaction to the increasingly noisy, opinionated, aggressive and polemic tone of our daily environment,” says Fiona Brice.

The British multi-instrumentalist, orchestral arranger and composer has drawn on her abundant talents to forge an exceptional record that fulfils the brief. Brice’s second solo album for Bella Union, And You Know I Care, is a deep listening experience that raises the post-classical bar, eschewing the genre’s default melancholia for wider and richer dimensions of uplifting and exultant bliss.

Brice has drawn on all her experience gained working with the likes of John Grant, Anna Calvi, Jarvis Cocker, Kanye West, Beyoncé, Katherine Jenkins, Elbow, the BBC Concert and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestras, Royal Northern Sinfonia and the London Mozart Players. She toured with Placebo for ten years, and more recently Elbow, so to say Brice is in-demand is an understatement. But she still has time for her own work. Her debut album Postcards From, a more minimalist, filmic set of instrumentals, was released in 2016. After two purer classical projects (String Quartet No.1 in 2018 and the lockdown-inspired Piano Preludes in 2022) And You Know I Care is a more wide-ranging, ruminating work, and showcases Brice’s voice, lyrics and choral arrangements – and what a gorgeous voice she has, strong and supple, able to hit the heights of a soprano.

To help her create this refuge from modern life, Brice (violin, piano) called on Vicky Matthews (cello), Benjamin Till (vocal on ‘Whose God Are You’) and co-producers Julian Simmons and Dimitri Tikovoï. “Every collaborator on this album is someone I’ve had a long-standing friendship and professional relationship with – including Simon Raymonde and Bella Union,” she says. “This is important to me because it gives the record a personal ‘retrospective’ quality.”

Renowned photographer Rankin is another friend (Brice initially featured in his famous Raw Nudes exhibition) who Brice asked to direct a video for the lead single – and title track after seeing his powerful portrait series Flora, juxtaposing flowers and flame. Says Brice, “I found Rankin’s series resonated with the music, though he’d only done stills: a video was my suggestion.” The visuals’ distilled, flickering beauty combines with the music’s ebb and flow, recalling video artist Bill Viola’s stunning slow-motion work. “I wanted something that could be shown in an art gallery,” says Brice. “It’s an installation as much as a video.”

Brice chose one of Rankin’s Flora images for the album cover. On the rear, she wears a formal black classical concert dress, lying in the (according to Alexander Technique and yoga practice) position known as ‘constructive rest’. “It promotes calming, tension release and relaxing the sympathetic nervous system,” says Brice, who trained as a yoga teacher in 2017 (how did she  find time?). “I hope the imagery shows the seriousness of the statement I’m making on this record.”  

The album is bookended by instrumentals, “to link back to Postcards From,” but each tells its own story. In the opening ‘Ascending’, a gentle piano prelude is slowly invaded by electronic sound, as if the world is intruding on Brice’s state of calm. The sombre strings of the closing ‘Retreat’ is, “a retreat back into instrumental music,” she feels, but it’s also a retreat into that state of calm. 

That leaves six sets of lyrics. Seeking community and empathy in a world spinning out of control, Brice reaches out to a friend in hospital (the title track), understands another’s perspective (‘Through Her Eyes’) and encourages a troubled friend that life can improve (‘Today It Will Be Different’). ‘Nocturnal’ acknowledges emotional pain, “and how long it can take to heal.” ‘We Rise We Fall’ telescopes outward, to lament, “how the world is in perpetual flux. We progress and then regress, and never get to where we could be.” ‘Whose God Are You’ is the album’s darker, cynical chapter, addressing “those people who’ll have you believe they walk on water. It could be politicians, religious leaders, or someone I know being precocious… it’s me saying, I don’t believe you.” 

In all cases, the lyrics are written as mantras. As Brice explains, “A lot of songs out there have an enormous number of words – just like people are talking all the time on social media. So, I wanted to break things down to the emotional core. Historically too, mantras in the yogi tradition of repetition soothe the mind and body.”

Music that has inspired Brice along this illuminating journey include Alice Coltrane’s Universal Consciousness (“the sheer ‘otherness’, the way she claims her own soundworld”), Steve Reich’s Different Trains (“repetition, variation and lyrical minimalism creating a strong emotional impact”), Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly and James McAlister’s Planetarium (”the combination of song form and orchestral textures”) and Henry Purcell (“especially Dido And Aeneas and baroque compositional use of ground bass”). 

 With a similarly questing spirit, rich composition and a commanding vision, Brice has created her own soundworld, and a place for everyone to find a shelter from the storm.

“A meditative refuge… Brice’s vocal contributions lift this above much New Classical fare, with ‘We Rise We Fall’ tenaciously uplifting, ‘Nocturnal’ borne aloft on choral voices, and ‘Today Will Be Different’ a balm for challenging times.” Uncut – 8/10

“Seasoned arranger-composer reaches for the heavens… Whose God Are You? suggests an immersion in the work of Arvo Pärt… A Bach étude-like piano figure sets the scene for a spectral voice and undulating strings… These subtle creations beg to be performed in a sympathetic setting so they can fully take flight.” MOJO – 4 Stars****

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith Reworks Soundwalk Collective & Patti Smith

With their one-off live performance at the Pompidou Centre in Paris taking place this Saturday, 22nd October, Soundwalk Collective with Patti Smith today share a beatific rework of the track “Song Of The Highest Tower” by acclaimed electronic artist Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith. 

“Song Of The Highest Tower” is the second track to be shared from the upcoming deluxe box set release of The Perfect Vision, out 25th November via Bella Union and available to preorder here, and follows Jim Jarmusch’s striking reimagining of “Eternity”. Both tracks are included on the remix album that comes with the box set alongside the three accliamedalbums – The Peyote DanceMummer Love and Peradam – that make up The Perfect Vision.

Between 2019 and 2021, Soundwalk Collective and Patti Smith collaborated on a triptych of albums which took their inspiration from the writings of three emblematic French poets: Antonin Artaud, Arthur Rimbaud and René Daumal. Central to the work was the poets’ necessity to travel to different lands to acquire a new vision and perspective on themselves and their art. Recorded in the Sierra Tarahumara of Mexico (The Peyote Dance), the Abyssinian valley of Ethiopia (Mummer Love), and the Himalayan Summit of India (Peradam) respectively, each album retraces the poets’ footsteps, channelled through on-location recorded soundscapes, in search of hidden, earthy sounds that hold embedded existence, with Patti Smith revisiting the poets’ words that have been inspired by the landscapes. The result is a sound and visual montage that traverses the works of Rimbaud, Artaud and Daumal in their voyage to elsewhere.

Stimulated by these metaphysical journeys, the musical and sound composition of The Perfect Vision is the starting point for a new site-specific and multidisciplinary exhibition – “Evidence” – that Soundwalk Collective and Patti Smith have conceived for the Pompidou Centre. Evidence is a poetic and immersive quest, an ode to a world without borders, a contemporary reflection on the infinite and the universal, a spiritual quest for oneness as a living and life-giving presence. The physical, sound and visual journeys of Soundwalk Collective enter into a conversation with the poetic trajectories of Patti Smith, to create a new vision and language. The exhibition space presents sound, film, abstract imagery, objects and found art collected from their travels, leading the visitor towards a large investigative installation that juxtaposes photography, text and original artwork by Patti Smith, from both her personal collections as well as those of Musée national d’art moderne and MoMA, as an evidence of the existence of these poets and their inspiration, offering a true immersion in their thought and art. 

The exhibition opens today and this Saturday 22nd October Soundwalk Collective & Patti Smith will play a special one-off live performance in the Grand Salle of the Pompidou Centre. More information on both the exhibition and the concert can be found via the Pompidou Centre’s official press release which can be read HERE.

The Perfect Vision remix disc tracklist:

1. Peradam (Brian Eno remix)

2. Song Of The Highest Tower (Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith rework)

3. Ivry (Laraaji rework)

4. Bad Blood (Lotic rework)

5. Indian Culture (Lucrecia Dalt remix)

7. Song Of The Highest Tower (AtomTM remix)

7. Eternity (Jim Jarmusch rework)

Introducing… Complete Mountain Almanac

Bella Union are thrilled to introduce Complete Mountain Almanac whose self-titled album will be released 27th January via the label. Complete Music Almanac is the musical collaboration of Norwegian-born, Sweden-based singer and composer Rebekka Karijord and American-born, Italy-based poet, dancer and multimedia artist Jessica Dessner, joined by her brothers Aaron andBryce Dessner of The National.

To accompany the announcement Complete Mountain Almanac have shared a beautifully shot video for beguiling lead track “May” directed by Olof Grind. Layered guitars fit perfectly within the track’s folky, chamber pop instrumentation, beautifully expressing its themes of hope and rebirth. Rebekka’s voice weaves Jessica’s words around the music with care. “The greatest mysteries are not material,” she sings as the track’s main focus becomes clear: whether big picture or deeply intimate, our human experience – and the ways we heal and nurture this precious life – help us make sense of everything here on offer.

Sometimes, two artists come together and transcend mere musical collaboration. Herein, the perfect example. Rebekka Karijord and Jessica Dessner met by chance in Brooklyn in the late ‘00s. Immediately taking an immense liking to one another, their friendship and shared artistry has produced one of the most important projects of both of their careers, now 15 years on. 

This meeting resulted in the creation of Complete Mountain Almanac, an artistic and musical project combining Rebekka’s expert songwriting and Jessica’s poetic and lyrical prowess. Complete Mountain Almanac first took seed in Rebekka’s mind: to compose an album about climate change in 12 suites, representing the 12 months of the year and the inherent healing cycle of nature. As she entered the initial writing stage, she approached Jessica to create the visual component of the project. Soon after, Jessica was diagnosed with breast cancer, and her own creative practice began to fuel her own internal healing process. In addition to working on the project’s artwork, she wrote a book of poetry, entitled Complete Mountain Almanac. Once these words were in Rebekka’s hands, they soon found their home as the lyrical matter for the songs – as well as baptizing the women’s collaboration, and debut release, with its name. The experience of personal illness and healing, alongside the experience of addressing climate change and the potency of nature, found an existential common ground in the two women’s collaboration. And Complete Mountain Almanac stands as testimony to their raw uncovering – an ode to rejuvenation, joy, and hope. 

The album features performances and co-production from Jessica’s twin brothers, Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National. The four artists united in Paris’ St. Germain studios to work on transforming Rebekka’s demos into a fully-fledged album. In order to preserve the urgency and soul of the material, all the tracks were recorded live, just Rebekka’s voice intricately laced through Aaron and Bryce’s expert guitar playing. As co-producer Rebekka then added minimalistic textures including horns and synthesisers, whilst Bryce wrote string arrangements for six songs that were performed by the Malmö Symphony Orchestra.

As the record cycles through the seasons, the seamless correlation between reckoning with the state of the planet in the wake of the climate crisis, and the healing of one’s body becomes abundantly clear. Sonically, the album cycles through folk, classical, chamber music and everything in between, creating a cocoon-like atmosphere that draws the listener into a stand-alone universe. It’s a marriage of the inner and outer worlds, illness and rejuvenation, grief and joy.