Lost Horizons release Part 1 of ‘In Quiet Moments’

Lost Horizons today share the first half of their double album ‘In Quiet Moments’ which features an array of stellar guests including John Grant, Porridge Radio, Kavi Kwai and more. The second half of the album as well as the full physical release is due February 26th via Bella Union.

In 2017, Simon Raymonde and Richie Thomas had both abstained from making music for 20 years until they united as Lost Horizons and released a stunning debut album, Ojalá – the Spanish word for “hopefully” or “God willing.” 

“These days, we need hope more than ever, for a better world.” Thomas said at the time. “And this album has given me a lot of hope. To reconnect with music…. And the hope for another Lost Horizons record!”

Thomas’ hopes had a mixed response. On the plus side, the new Lost Horizons album In Quiet Moments is an even stronger successor to Ojalá with another distinguished cast of guest singers and a handful of supporting instrumentalists embellishing the core duo’s gorgeously free-flowing and loose-limbed blueprint that one writer astutely labelled, “melancholy-delia.” 

On the minus side, any hope for a better world, as Earth continues to freefall toward political and social meltdown. Then, to make matters worse, as Raymonde and Thomas buckled down to create the improvised bedrock that Lost Horizons is built on, the former’s mother died. At least Raymonde had a way to channel his grief. “The way improvisation works,” he says, “it’s just what’s going on with your body at the time, to let it out.”

In Quiet Moments has its pockets of loss but – aligned to the concept of ‘hope’ – the album is more about rebirth than death. “I think it’s more joyous than Ojalá,” says Thomas. “But both albums have a great energy about them.” 

Those energy levels undulate across a dazzling array of moods and voices; as broad as the name Lost Horizons sounds. Take the first three tracks: the melting rapture of ‘Halcyon’ featuring Jack Wolter of Bella Union signings Penelope Isles, the simmering urban-soulful ‘I Woke Up With An Open Heart’ featuring Nubiya Brandon of The Hempolics and the quintessentially melancholy-delic ‘Grey Tower’ featuring a returning Tim Smith.

Also returning from Ojalá are Gemma Dunleavy, Karen Peris (the innocence mission), Cameron Neal (Horse Thief) and Marissa Nadler. The last three are all Bella Union family members; likewise, John Grant (the lush, choral ‘Cordelia’, etched by David Rothon’s pedal steel and Fiona Brice’s elegant strings) and Ren Harvieu (a sultry ‘Unravelling In Slow Motion’), and new signing Laura Groves (the jazz-tinged ‘Blue Soul’), all making their Lost Horizons debuts. 

Dana Margolin of the hugely acclaimed Porridge Radio lends the rampant ‘One For Regret’’ her trademark bristling energy; at the other end of the spectrum, ‘Flutter’ features Rosie Blair (of former Bella Union signing Ballet School) adding exquisite blue notes to a stark palate of Thomas’ piano and Fiona Brice’s strings. Deploying his A&R acumen, Raymonde called on new Swedish discovery Kavi Kwai for the Cocteaus-evoking ‘Every Beat That Passed’ (“You can’t make music for as long as I have and drop all your influences and habits overnight,” says Raymonde). Also present are Lily Wolter (of Penelope Isles) under her solo pseudonym KookieLou, and C Duncan. A richer and more varied cast list would be very hard to find. 

“I think In Quiet Moments is more in the direction of where we’re going,” Thomas concludes. “People have retreated into their lives and, in those quiet moments, reflected on the world, how we fit in and who we trust. Maybe the next album will be about rebellion! But the road is long and winding. We just need to express ourselves in how we feel at the time.”

Lost Horizons share ‘Every Beat That Passed’

Having last week been 6Music’s Album Of The Day for the digital release of the first half of their upcoming double album In Quiet Moments, today Lost Horizons share a truly mesmerising video-of-the-year contender for new single ‘Every Beat That Passed’, which features Swedish singer and producer Kavi Kwai on lead vocals. The video, which is a visual feast and includes some incredible choreography, is again directed by Jonathan Caouette (Tarnation, Walk Away Renee) who created the hypnotic video for ‘Cordelia’ which features John Grant on lead vocals. Of the video Caouette says: Through the work I did on the videos, I began feeling that ‘Cordelia’ represented memory, loss, melancholy, and how inescapable impermanence is and that ‘Every Beat that Passed’ represented the antithesis of those ideas: the promise of resetting and renewal, and the hope that not all is lost, even under the hardest of circumstances. So, even though they have two distinct feelings they also work together as two different perspectives, yin and yang etc.”

Of the track Simon Raymonde of Lost Horizons says: “Richie came up with the piano part for this and it grabbed my attention immediately. That ‘waltz’ rhythm is pretty much in my DNA from my Cocteaus days, and the other instrumentation just kinda flowed out in a rush of emotion and memory. Discovering Kavi Kwai was akin to roaming the beaches of Bognor with a defective metal detector and discovering a whopping blue diamond. She is from Sweden and on hearing her music, I vowed to create a track especially for her. When I received her vocal back, I had that unusual experience of simultaneously laughing and crying at the same time. Laughing because I couldn’t believe how incredible it was, and crying because she turned our tune into a beautifully sad song which really moved me. Still does to be honest.”

Kavi Kwai adds: “The feeling that came to me when I first heard the instrumental version was that it felt very hopeful. Hope always has an undertone of something heavy or dark – otherwise we wouldn’t need it. When I wrote the melodies and the lyrics I stayed in that mode, I wanted to capture the combination of dark and light.” 

Lost Horizons have also shared videos for ‘I Woke Up With An Open Heart’ featuring The Hempolics, ‘Grey Tower’ featuring Tim Smith of Midlake and ‘One For Regret’ featuring Porridge Radio.

Laura Groves debuts ‘Foolish Game’

With her new 6-track EP A Private Road due for release 4th December via Bella Union, and having previously shared a video for lead track ‘Infinite Wisdom’, Laura Groves today shares a striking video for new single “Foolish Game”. Of the track Groves says: “Foolish Game is a song about the tension between the thrill and the hurt of a situation you can’t seem to let go of – the harshness and tenderness of submission to the same pattern even though we know it may be bad for us, and the strength that can come from becoming aware and taking control. I wanted to evoke the feeling of a slow dance at the end of a night and the thoughts that might go through your head on the journey home afterwards.”

In other news, Groves has also announced news of a special socially distanced London livestream show for the week after release at Folklore in Hackney… Full details found here.

Of the A Private Road EP Groves says: “This record, made mostly on my own, became both a channel for the expression of an inner world and an imagined soundtrack to my physical journeys through the city. It is rooted in the stories, atmospheres, mistakes and wrong turns, desires and layers of meaning that run through and play out in the landscapes we inhabit. The songs are snapshots of late night journeys across the river, the sparks of love that transform us and keep us going, the dead ends that the mind can lead us down, the erotic, the visible and invisible places we pass through as they merge and are erased and overwritten. The ability and opportunity to create and connect through music is a gift and I’m so happy to be able to share these new explorations with you.”

Laura Groves is an artist and producer born in West Yorkshire and based in South London. As a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, she explores themes of inner worlds, healing, connection, and imagined environments and real-life surroundings, mixing traditional songwriting with experimental synthesised sounds, textural electronic layering, and a passion for home recording. Following on from her work as Blue Roses on XL Recordings, Laura has released two EPs under her own name on DEEK Records, created with long-time collaborator Bullion: ‘Thinking About Thinking’ (2013) and ‘Committed Language’ (2015). 

Along with her solo work and three-piece band, Nautic, Laura has built a reputation as a sought after collaborator, in both live and recorded settings, for the likes of Darkstar, Wilma Archer, Sampha, Westerman, The Paul Institute, Bat for Lashes, and Hannah Peel. Delving into the art of soundtracks, Laura scored the silent film ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ at the BFI and Latitude Festival, along with creating her own moving image work to accompany her music.  

Laura has been regularly played on BBC6 Music, championed by Guy Garvey, and continuously featured on NTS with both guest slots and performances. She has been featured in The Fader, DUMMY, Dazed, and The Line of Best Fit. Notable performances include Glastonbury, Bestival, Green Man, NTS at Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, along with supporting St Vincent and Wild Beasts. 

A.A. Williams covers The Smashing Pumpkins

Having last month announced the release of Songs From Isolation, a 9-track LP of cover versions out 12th February via Bella Union, today A.A. Williams shares another new track from the album. “Porcelina Of The Vast Oceans” is a beguiling, stripped-back cover of the Smashing Pumpkins classic. Of the track Williams says: “Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness is such a nostalgic album for a generation of music-lovers, it was great to have a chance to work on one of the tracks for the Songs From Isolation project. The Pumpkins’ Porcelina has so many timbre changes and complexities that in this arrangement I wanted to hone in on the text, whilst leaving the piano to underpin everything with a dreamy positivity.”

The Songs From Isolation project began at the beginning of the UK’s nationwide lockdown in March. A.A. Williams took songs suggested by fans and created a series of videos presenting the tracks with stripped-down instrumentation, recorded and filmed from her home in North London. The album represents a continuation of the project into a full collection of recordings and features cover versions of The Cure, Pixies, Deftones, Nick Cave, Gordon Lightfoot, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and more.Williams has previously shared cover versions of Deftones’ ‘Be Quiet And Drive’ and ‘Lovesong’ by The Cure from the album.

A.A. Williams recently announced news of further live dates which will hopefully take place next year. March sees her on tour in Europe with The Sisters Of Mercy followed by an extensive tour with MONO running through to mid-April. This is followed by UK headline shows including a special Songs From Isolation London performance in September. 

Critical acclaim for Forever Blue, A.A. Williams’ July-released debut album:

“Williams moves with ease between singer-songwriter territory and post-metal heaviness… Forever Blue is a remarkable accomplishment, confirming that Williams has already built a world of her own.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“Revelatory… Minimalist singer-songwriter material blending with elements of classical, metal and post-rock to make a distinctive whole.” The Observer (One To Watch)

“Darkly beguiling… A.A. Williams’ songs maintain an eerie delicacy whether she chooses a setting that’s spare, ornate or pulverising… The shifts between moments of high drama and quiet tension point to her kinship with Chelsea Wolfe and PJ Harvey.” Uncut

“blending moments of introspection with soaring post-rock crescendos and classical elements, this is a compelling debut throughout.” Q – 4 stars ****

“A masterful work of melancholy and bruised beauty… One of the most wonderful new British artists of recent years.” Planet Rock – 5 stars *****

“Stirring and evocative… We’re only halfway through 2020 but the chances of a more heartrending and fully formed debut emerging this year are practically zero.” Metal Hammer – 9/10

“Enduring the emotional abyss with breathtaking grace and grit on her debut album; A.A. Williams’ Forever Blue is a record that reveals more of its sublime poetry each time it’s listened to.” The Line Of Best Fit – 9/10

“A stunning eight track debut… Her vocals are stirring and emotive, while conveying raw emotion that perfectly encapsulates the anxieties and addictions of love and loss… Just sublime.” Clash – 8/10

A concise yet profound debut album that displays incredible craft both lyrically and dynamically.” Secret Meeting – 8.5/10

“A debut of richness, depth and genuinely shattering emotional engagement – pure melancholic majesty to lose yourself in.” Beats Per Minute – 8.2/10

Happy Release Day Emmy The Great

Emmy The Great today releases her beautiful new solo album April /月音 via Bella Union, ready to listen to / order here. To celebrate the albums release, Emmy The Great will perform a very special socially distanced one off show for the Barbican, which will also be available to stream online. More details here.

“My story begins with the moon. In September 2017, I travelled to Hong Kong from New York, where I’d lived for three years, for the Mid-Autumn festival. I was planning to visit my parents and take some time off to write my fourth album. I arrived in time for the full moon – Chang-E’s moon – at a time of year when the heat breaks and the city seems alive with possibility.

That Spring, I’d visited China and accidentally become somewhat fluent in Cantonese again, though the goal had been to speak Mandarin. I was there for a music residency, and had expected to feel an instant click. Instead, I realised that Hong Kong had an identity quite separate from the Mainland, and with my mother tongue reinstated, I was beginning to come to terms with that identity being a part of mine. This was tough – I was born in Hong Kong but I’ve always felt complicated about it.

Still, that Mid-Autumn, everything felt simple. Under the guidance of the moon, I walked the city – its neon-lit alleyways, its escalators and mountain paths. For a brief, precious moment, I fell into synch with Hong Kong. I felt its complex legacy and its tangled future. I felt the sorrow, alive in the buzz of neon and the drips of air-conditioner units, of a city caught between two destinies. It was twenty years since the Handover and the beginning of ‘One Country, Two Systems’. Everywhere I went, I saw people seeking to define their shared identity before it was too late. I hope some of that spirit has found its way into the songs, which were mostly written during that time.

The album was recorded over two weeks in February 2018 in the Creamery in Greenpoint. It’s the fastest record I’ve ever made, which is ironic because its release was later delayed to accommodate a year’s maternity leave. I produced it with Bea Artola and Dani Markham, who was in my US band and also played drums. Jeffrey Fettig, our guitarist, also engineered, and the rest of the players were mostly friends as well as musical collaborators. These sessions became a kind of goodbye, and I left New York for Hong Kong permanently a few weeks after they finished.

I’ll never know why the city called me back, but I know what it gave me. In return, I want to give it this album. That Mid-Autumn, nobody could have predicted what was to come, neither the atomisation that began with the anti-Extradition Law protests in June 2019, nor the struggle for democracy that continues now, through the Covid-19 pandemic. To witness your birth city in its greatest moment of need is a powerful, humbling event, and I know I watched Hong Kong’s destiny shift into something turbulent and uncertain. I’m glad I recorded what I felt there, during a precious, peaceful time, when life was so good that all I had to do was trust the moon. May it be just one small piece of witness among many, and may the voices of Hong Kong never stop speaking, and asking to be heard.” Emma-Lee Moss, London, July 2020

Since her third album was released in 2016, Emma-Lee Moss has worked as a critically-acclaimed composer for radio, TV, film and stage. Her credits include original songs for Starlee Kine’s groundbreaking US podcast ‘Mystery Show’; Sara Pascoe’s ‘Out of Her Mind’ for BBC2; Mia Lidofsky’s ‘Strangers’, which featured Girls’ Jemima Kirke as a singer-songwriter called ‘Emmy’. She also wrote music and libretto for Sara Pascoe’s stage adaptation of ‘Pride & Prejudice’ at the Nottingham Playhouse, and is working on HEEL, a new musical about female wrestling with the playwright Isley Lynn. 

As a journalist, she contributes writing to the Guardian, Vice, British GQ, Wired and others, and presented and composed music for ‘A Sailor Went to Sea Sea Sea’ for BBC Radio 4, nominated for the Prix Europa in 2019.

April /月音 is out now on Bella Union.

Lost Horizons & John Grant share ‘Cordelia’

Last month Lost Horizons announced news of their new album, In Quiet Moments, released 26th February 2021 via Bella Union, and shared a video for lead track ‘I Woke Up With An Open Heart’. Today the band share a very different track from the LP, a poignant and dreamlike collaboration with John Grant titled “Cordelia.”

Of the track Simon Raymonde of Lost Horizons says: “This was one of the last tracks recorded for the album, though it came from the ashes of one the first improv sessions Richie and I had. Listening back to what we started with, I jettisoned the drums and most of the guitars but salvaged a small part of it and turned it into something brand new. Then I had the amazing David Rothon -who I had seen play live with Marissa Nadler a few nights before – and long-time collaborator Fiona Brice add pedal steel and strings respectively. Sitting quietly in the studio with our spacey slice of instrumental swirl, I closed my eyes to imagine a voice. While much of his recent work involves synths and crunchy beats, how he magnificently handles cinematic melancholy in his own work, and specifically in the Scott Walker Prom for the BBC, I knew my dear friend John Grant would nail this. I hoped he might enjoy the freedom of creating some melodic magic alongside elegant emotional lyrics. I sent him the piece, aware that he is always so incredibly busy, and tried to keep my expectations low, in case he had to turn it down, but to my utter and continuing delight he said yes and I’ll have to admit to shedding a tear or two when he sent me back the completed vocal a few weeks later.”

John Grant adds: “I really loved doing this track with Simon. I’d had the idea for this song for a long time and when he sent me the instrumental, I immediately thought: ‘CORDELIA’ – so happy to have found such a beautiful home for this track!” 

In other news, Lost Horizons last week shared a remix of the track “I Woke Up With An Open heart” by On-U Sound founder and dub legend Adrian Sherwood. The remix is accompanied by a video created by Brighton visual artist “innerstrings” who worked with Lost Horizons on all of their 2017/18 touring doing live oil-based projections. Listen/watch HERE

The band have also announced news of a London live show at the Scala just over a year from now. More info HERE.

In Quiet Moments features a stellar array of musical guests including John Grant, C Duncan, Marissa Nadler, Porridge Radio, Penelope Isles, Karen Peris (the innocence mission), Tim Smith (Midlake), Ren Harvieu and many more. The 16-track album will be released in two sections. The first half (8 tracks) will be released digitally 4th December with the second half and physical release following on 26th February 2021.

In 2017, Simon Raymonde and Richie Thomas had both abstained from making music for 20 years until they united as Lost Horizons and released a stunning debut album, Ojalá – the Spanish word for “hopefully” or “God willing.” 

“These days, we need hope more than ever, for a better world.” Thomas said at the time. “And this album has given me a lot of hope. To reconnect with music…. And the hope for another Lost Horizons record!” 

Thomas’ hopes had a mixed response. On the plus side, the new Lost Horizons album In Quiet Moments is an even stronger successor to Ojalá with another distinguished cast of guest singers and a handful of supporting instrumentalists embellishing the core duo’s gorgeously free-flowing and loose-limbed blueprint that one writer astutely labelled, “melancholy-delia.” 

On the minus side, any hope for a better world, as Earth continues to freefall toward political and social meltdown. Then, to make matters worse, as Raymonde and Thomas buckled down to create the improvised bedrock that Lost Horizons is built on, the former’s mother died. At least Raymonde had a way to channel his grief. “The way improvisation works,” he says, “it’s just what’s going on with your body at the time, to let it out.”

Raymonde (bass, guitar, keyboards, production) and Thomas (drums, occasional keys and guitar) forged ahead, creating 16 instrumental tracks to send to prospective guests. When he did, Raymonde suggested a guiding theme for their lyrics: “Death and rebirth. Of loved ones, of ideals, at an age when many artists that have inspired us are also dead, and the planet isn’t far behind. But I also said, ‘The most important part is to just do your own thing, and have fun.” 

And then Covid-19 hit. Half of In Quiet Moments’ lyrics were written after lockdown, but Raymonde saw a silver lining: people were slowing down and taking stock of their lives. Hearing a lyric written by veteran singer Ural Thomas, known as “Portland’s Pillar of Soul”, who fronts the title track, Raymonde singled out the phrase “in quiet moments” and made it the album title. “It just made sense,” he says. “This moment of contemplation in life is really beautiful. The title also went with the album cover, a photograph by Jacques-Henri Lartigue from the 1940s of a woman and dog on a beach, captured as if in flight.” 

Lost Horizons’ melancholy-delia also feels buoyed aloft by airy currents, informed in part by Raymonde and Thomas’ former respective bands: the legendary Cocteau Twins and Dif Juz. Their former bands were labelmates on 4AD in the mid-80s, which is how they first met. 

In Quiet Moments has its pockets of loss but – aligned to the concept of ‘hope’ – the album is more about rebirth than death. “I think it’s more joyous than Ojalá,” says Thomas. “But both albums have a great energy about them.” 

Those energy levels undulate across a dazzling array of moods and voices; as broad as the name Lost Horizons sounds. Take the first three tracks: the melting rapture of ‘Halcyon’ featuring Jack Wolter of Bella Union signings Penelope Isles, the simmering urban-soulful ‘I Woke Up With An Open Heart’ featuring Nubiya Brandon of The Hempolics and the quintessentially melancholy-delic ‘Grey Tower’ featuring a returning Tim Smith . 

Also returning from Ojalá are Gemma Dunleavy, Karen Peris (the innocence mission), Cameron Neal (Horse Thief) and Marissa Nadler. The last three are all Bella Union family members; likewise, John Grant (the lush, choral ‘Cordelia’, etched by David Rothon’s pedal steel and Fiona Brice’s elegant strings) and Ren Harvieu (a sultry ‘Unravelling In Slow Motion’), and new signing Laura Groves (the jazz-tinged ‘Blue Soul’), all making their Lost Horizons debuts. 

Dana Margolin of the hugely acclaimed Porridge Radio lends the rampant ‘One For Regret’’ her trademark bristling energy; at the other end of the spectrum, ‘Flutter’ features Rosie Blair (of former Bella Union signing Ballet School) adding exquisite blue notes to a stark palate of Thomas’ piano and Fiona Brice’s strings. Deploying his A&R acumen, Raymonde called on new Swedish discovery Kavi Kwai for the Cocteaus-evoking ‘Every Beat That Passed’ (“You can’t make music for as long as I have and drop all your influences and habits overnight,” says Raymonde). Also present are Lily Wolter (of Penelope Isles) under her solo pseudonym KookieLou, and C Duncan. A richer and more varied cast list would be very hard to find. 

“I think In Quiet Moments is more in the direction of where we’re going,” Thomas concludes. “People have retreated into their lives and, in those quiet moments, reflected on the world, how we fit in and who we trust. Maybe the next album will be about rebellion! But the road is long and winding. We just need to express ourselves in how we feel at the time.”