The Natural Lines Announce Self Titled Debut Album

Following their recent First Five EP The Natural Lines today announce the release of their self-titled debut album, The Natural Lines, out 24th March via Bella Union and available to preorder here. To accompany the announcement the band have shared an entertaining video for first single and album opener “Monotony” featuring celebrated American comedian, actress and TV host Nikki Glaser playing a somewhat unconventional therapist. Commenting on the song and video frontman Matt Pond says: “Over the last few years, I’ve tried to focus on my breathing—to try to and be a better singer, to try and be a better person. But it’s hard to sit still and slow down when the world seems so unruly. Monotony is an anthem about the daily tightrope—searching for the right path between passion and apathy. All the while, I’ve been working with Nikki Glaser. Her fearlessness is contagious. Since she never hesitates to tell me what she really thinks, I thought it made perfect sense for Nikki to portray my therapist in the video.” 

Sometimes, a change of view can transform a person’s world. On ‘Don’t Come Down’, the artist formerly known as Matt Pond PA can be found with his “shoulder on the concrete” of a pavement, scoping out the world anew. This granular realignment of perspective serves as an open door to the debut album from The Natural Lines. At once clearly Pond’s work yet a huge leap forward in its measured songcraft, melodic immediacy, collaborative detail and wryly questioning lyrics, the result is a gorgeous album of intimate reflections from a relocated, renamed, revivified talent.

Recorded with close collaborators and friends over a period that saw Pond make vital adjustments to his life, its stealth emergence reflects his desire to set a fresh pace for himself and come from somewhere new, somewhere more open.

Now based in Kingston, New York, with his partner and wild dog Willa, Matt explains the album’s gestation thus. “It was something different from the start. I wanted to write as purely as I could. Instead of getting stuck in the ‘tour, write an album, release an album, tour’ cycle, which is not a natural way of writing or living, I wanted to write an album and when it was done I wanted to make sure it was done. I didn’t want this feeling of, ‘Oh, we didn’t have time’, or, ‘I don’t know whether I believe in the songs but it’s coming out anyway.’ I used to be always racing to the finish line, but I’m not anymore.”

For Matt, the call to ring the changes came with the recognition of “a certain nihilism or narcissism” involved in making music. “In some ways, you have to get in your own head and I think I went too far with that, with drinking and shutting people out. In something that I believe is collaborative, it’s not helpful.”

“I quit lying,” he adds. “I checked my harsher tones. I cut my drinking down. I went to therapy and figured out how to stop shouting at cars.”

Car troubles inspire ‘No More Tragedies’, the album’s standout second track, where he wryly details his desire to dampen his twinned impulses to take pictures of license plates blocking his parking space or take bricks to said car windshields. Warming melodies and harmonies soothe his rage, a balance maintained elsewhere on the album.

A need for connection underpins the lilting ‘Alex Bell’, where Matt’s lyrics playfully reference the inventor of the telephone over a plaintive cello and bubbling keyboards – evidence of the album’s carefully nurtured arrangements. With nimble sequencing, ‘My Answer’ follows with a question: do artists really need to get messed-up to create? Matt may not have the answer, he admits, but he articulates the question beautifully, channelling the influence of Blue Öyster Cult’s ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’ into a song of fleet, melodic electric-folk drive.

Featuring 17-year-old MJ Murphy on misty backing vocals, the softly insistent ‘Don’t Come Down’ is an album centrepiece, detailing a need to see things anew. Like The Flaming Lips writing a classicist piano ballad, the twinkling ‘Artificial Moonlight’ finds Matt writing late at night, illuminated by the lights from streetlamps. Finally, ‘Mahwah’ closes the album on a note of arrival. While Matt Pond PA’s albums emerged from the disconnection of touring and living in vans, Pond is now happily – cruel winters aside – ensconced in Kingston. “I have found a place I love. Mercury Rev lives near here. It is a cool place to be, an artistic, mountainous, wild place to live. So – maybe this is it.”

In the case of The Natural Lines, a sense of arrival suggests itself. For Matt, the album follows two decades’ worth of Matt Pond PA records and soundtrack works. In a career he once described as “a series of benign mistakes,” Matt travelled far, moving from his band’s starting point in Philadelphia to Florida, Oakland and beyond while releasing 14 well-received albums. In 2017, he declared his intent to retire the Matt Pond PA name, though it lived on briefly in the reissue of The State Of Gold and EPs such as Free Fall, a tribute to Philadelphia.

Now, the name change honours his collaborators. Among a revolving cast, one constant presence in his work has been Chris Hansen, who plays guitar, bass, keys, saxophone and vocals on The Natural Lines’ debut. Matt’s partner, Anya Marina, contributes vocals. Other band members number Hilary James (cello/vocals), Kyle Kelly-Yahner (drums), Louie Lino (keys), Sarah Hansen (horns), Sean Hansen (drums/bass), Kat Murphy (vocals) and, also on vocals, MJ Murphy, for whom Matt brims with praise: “She can do anything she wants to musically.”

A heartening rebirth for Pond and his friends, the result also pays warming, witty, reflective and infectious testimony to the value of reconfiguring one’s outlook. “Once I took control of my mind, I could see what I wanted to say more clearly,” says Matt. “Instead of random floods of mania and panic, I felt like I was composed and composing. It has become as simple as reading the words of a sentence in the right order. As small as the pause before I hit ‘send’.” A development, you might say, conducted along the most natural of lines.

Happy Release Day To Soundwalk Collective with Patti Smith

Today at Bella Union we’re celebrating the Soundwalk Collective & Patti Smith deluxe box set release of The Perfect Vision, the triptych of acclaimed albums that encompasses The Peyote Dance, Mummer Love and Peradam. The box set, which includes a remix album featuring contributions from Brian Eno, Jim Jarmusch, Laraaji and more, is available to buy now and all copies (limited to 500 for the world) come with a signed Patti Smith print. The box set also includes a book which features an interview with Patti Smith and Stephan Crasneanscki of Soundwalk Collective along with photos and drawings.

Between 2019 and 2021, Soundwalk Collective and Patti Smith collaborated on the creation of The Perfect Vision: 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 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.

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 will run through to January 2022 at the Pompidou Centre. More info HERE.

Wren Hinds “A Thousand Hearts” Vinyl Out Now

Wren Hinds today releases his second album “A Thousand Hearts” on vinyl via Bella Union Private Pressing. 

Relocated from Durban to Simon’s Town, Cape Town, Wren Hinds recorded his second album in 2018. A small-town kind in a big city, he channelled his sense of displacement into a fluent range of songs, linked by a feeling for place and space. Drawn from a poem by his uncle Keith Erasmus, the lovelorn waltz of ‘Sadness in the Wind’ is a beatific stand-out, Wren evoking Karen Dalton in his wavering, multi-tracked voice. Elsewhere, an ear for layered details and discreet tonal shifts asserts itself. On ‘Run’, a piano and a finger-picked guitar share mutually supportive space. On ‘Lights’, the guitar displays just a hint of swagger. Meanwhile, also drawing on Erasmus’s poetry, the title-track’s wonky ballroom lament sums up the album at a soothing stroke: “There’s beauty in the sadness, and there’s beauty in the pain/ And in the melancholic madness and its bittersweet refrain.” Wherever you listen, essentially.

Wren Hinds comments that… “A Thousand Hearts is a body of work that is very dear to me, it’s an album that embraces the age old tale of a small town kid in the big city, set within the walls of an unpredictable and volatile country. I am immensely grateful and overjoyed for this record to have found the most perfect home with Bella Union”

Hailing from the South-east coast of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, Wren Hinds grew up with a musician for a father and a landscape painter for a mother. As a kid, watching his dad recording and overdubbing inspired Wren to keep a tape recorder with him, recording whatever and wherever he could. Later, he would compare the layering of instruments and textures to the mediums and paints of his mother’s chosen artform. For Wren, songwriting became “painting with sound”, using light, shade and a sense of space to communicate powerful impressions and feelings.

Wren brought this schooling to gorgeous fruition across his first three albums, initially available on Bandcamp and now released on vinyl through Bella Union Private Pressings. Made with an eco-friendly manufacturing company, each record will be available as a special edition limited to 200 copies, available through mail order and the Bella Union store. Either way, the trilogy plots the growth curve of a major talent, released in readiness for the now Bella Union-signed artist’s incoming fourth album.

Pre-order / listen to “A Thousand Hearts” HERE.

Brian Eno Reworks Soundwalk Collective & Patti Smith’s “Peradam”

This Friday, 25th November, Soundwalk Collective with Patti Smith release The Perfect Vision deluxe box set via Bella Union. Ahead of the release Soundwalk Collective with Patti Smith have shared an entrancing remix of the track “Peradam” by esteemed composer and producer Brian Eno.

The track is included on the remix album that comes with the box set alongside the three acclaimed albums – The Peyote DanceMummer Love and Peradam – that make up The Perfect Vision. The remix album also includes Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s beatific rework of “Song Of The Highest Tower” and Jim Jarmusch’s striking reimagining of “Eternity”.

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.

Brian Eno – musician, producer, visual artist and activist first came to international prominence in the early seventies as a founding member of British band, Roxy Music, followed by a series of solo albums and collaborations. His work as producer includes albums with Talking Heads, Devo, U2, Laurie Anderson, James, Jane Siberry and Coldplay, while his long list of collaborations include recordings with David Bowie, Jon Hassell, Harold Budd, John Cale, David Byrne, Grace Jones, Karl Hyde, James Blake and recently with his brother, Roger, on Mixing Colours.

Brian Eno’s visual experiments with light and video continue to parallel his musical career, with exhibitions and installations all over the globe. To date he has released over forty albums of his own music and exhibited extensively, as far afield as the Venice Biennale, St. Petersburg’s Marble Palace, Ritan Park in Beijing, Arcos de Lapa in Rio de Janeiro and the sails of the Sydney Opera House. He is a founding member of the Long Now Foundation, a trustee of Client Earth and patron of Videre est Credere. In April 2021, he launched EarthPercent, which raises money from the music industry for some of the most impactful environmental charities working on the climate emergency.

His latest album, ‘FOREVERANDEVERNOMORE’ was released on the 14th October 2022.

Preorder The Perfect Vision Deluxe Box Set now.

Liela Moss Shares “Ache In The Middle”

With her new album Internal Working Model due out 13th January via Bella Union, and having previously shared the track “Vanishing Shadows” featuring Gary Numan, today Liela Moss shares her new single “Ache In The Middle” featuring Jehnny Beth. The track comes accompanied by a dreamlike video which can be viewed below.

Commenting on the track Liela says: “I was working with Johnny Hostile on extra instrumentation for this track, when he sent it back with a middle 8 vocal section written and sung by his partner Jehnny Beth. He emailed saying she loved the track and hoped I didn’t mind her spontaneous contribution?  This was a real gift, some unexpected beauty. The track crystallises my thoughts about some of my own childhood, ideas about attachment and my recent work with Children’s Social Care. Jehnny Beth must have somehow understood where I was with this personal process, because she jumped straight in with a complimentary lyrical flow.”

On the video Liela adds: “The video reflects some of my glitched and slowly fading childhood memories, and the weird, uncanny aloneness I would experience when regulating my feelings as a little kid. People, spaces and animals take on this huge symbolic value and radiate with security, when you are very young, and searching for that safety.”

“I’m trying to find a way to plug myself into a new community,” says Liela Moss of her third solo album. “I am imagining a tribe, navigating away from our very centralised culture, dismantling it and revising the way I think things work.”

After the haunting My Name Is Safe in Your Mouth (2018) and the dramatic, synth-loaded Who the Power (2020), Internal Working Model bristles with frustration at our disconnected culture but also – crucially – burns with a desire to reconnect: “We see the beneficiaries of the status quo suppress realness and wellbeing by selling you a banal alternative that upholds their agenda. I want to add to the firepower to burn that old house down.”

A sense of controlled urgency emerges, fuelled by the force of Moss’ questioning insights. In part, it’s an album about selfhood and certainties unsettled in today’s dystopian theatre, somewhat by the pandemic but also, says Moss, by the “self-seeking, self-protecting culture” of global economics where we have forgotten that “competition is just a construct, co-operation is actually the natural way of being… Lyrically, I’m laughing and yelling at surveillance capitalism, I’m throwing down sentences that reach out to simply feel good on good terrain, to feel safe on planet earth. There is turbulence, but an understanding that the urge to restructure is growing; human goodness cannot truly be suppressed.”

With Moss’ expressive voice leading the way over fractious synth backdrops, the result is at once tense and tender, timeless and timely; determined to plug into positivity wherever it can be found. “It’s like a carnival of good will,” says Moss, “we see thepretence, the masquerade. Then the realness, the love. That’s why the word ‘empathy’ comes up so much and rolls around amongst the most menacing synths. It cannot be kept down, no matter the weight.”

As Liela explains of the album’s relationship to Who the Power, “I wanted a more vigorous pulse, I wanted more movement. I wanted to feel friction and for things to feel emotionally disruptive this time around.” Also at its core sits Moss’ interest inattachment theory, the idea that the ways we are cared for (or not) in childhood forge the neurological pathways that build esteem, that shape us – and perhaps the world. “I started to think about the nefarious characters in globalist culture who have such a hold on what’s going on in terms of big pharma, big tech and big political everything. I was thinking, my God, these manipulative people started life needing to be attended to properly and probably were not! All this desperate greed and corruption winds back to maladapted individuals! Then I began seeing them as tiny, neglected humans with an unhealthy attachment cycle.”

Internal Working Model’s creation evolved organically between Moss and partner/collaborator Toby Butler, who divided their time between work and parenting to make the album. Moss compares the process to a “slow game of cards,” the duo revealing their hands in a playful spirit. The “third brain in the room,” says Moss, was the modular synth: “You tweak it and it changes theenergy. There’s nothing new in that technology, but in terms of the way we’ve worked for years, working with an anonymous synth brain was a new kind of freedom.”

In earlier years, Moss’ environs have included The Duke Spirit, the guitar band whose output ranged from brawling alt-rock to more cinematic ventures. Other outlets have included synth-rock project (with Butler) Roman Remains and various collaborative ventures – with UNKLE, Nick Cave, Giorgio Moroder, The Heritage Orchestra and Lost Horizons, among others. She also served as muse for fashion icons Alexander McQueen and Phillip Lim. That combination of self-possession, exploration and receptivity drives Internal Working Model. Personal and expansive, galvanic and inquisitive, it’s an album that sees the modern world’s mess through open eyes but isn’t willing to stop there: it wants to seek out solutions, source the potential in other ways of being and seeing.

Happy Release Day Helen Ganya

Today, at Bella Union we are celebrating the release of Helen Ganya’s excellent drama-filled album polish the machine. Formerly known as Dog In The Snow, this will be Ganya’s second album release under the Bella Union label. To celebrate the release, she has shared a self directed video for the albums title track.

Critical acclaim for polish the machine

“Stellar melodies… From ‘Afterparty’ to the title track Ganya ensures that this journey of deep emotional discovery is framed in an uplifting way, through soundscapes of propulsive beats and glistening synths. Mixing art-pop, dreampop, atmospherics and psychedelia, this record thrums with energy, confidence and euphoria, making it a startlingly original statement.” Electronic Sound

“Mesmerising electro-rock… From the opening lines of her third LP, Helen Ganya promises something out of the ordinary… ‘I Will Hold That Hand For You’ coalesces into luscious electronic pop; ‘Young Girls Never Die’ a grinding, quasi-industrial denunciation of patriarchal ideology, Björk crossed with Trent Reznor… Ganya’s elegant arrangements mesmerise, her vocals taut and poised.” Uncut

’I had a fear of the ordinar’  begins Helen Ganya on the impressive polish the machine. Her song-based electronica succeeds in transcending it through sheer force of personality. The grafting of grit onto a glam sonic surface ensures that tracks like the multi-layered ‘Young Girls never Die’ work as both statement and entertainment. This is a poised, powerful voice arriving.” PROG

Polish The Machine’s opening cut ‘I Will Hold That Hand For You’ suggests a rhythmic and atmospheric kinship with Enya’s Orinoco Flow. Elsewhere, there are hints of Hounds Of Love Kate Bush and Cocteau Twins. A grandeur too, with swelling choruses and boom-crash percussion.” MOJO

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.

polish the machine is out now on Bella Union.