Lost Horizons & Penelope Isles share “Halcyon” visuals

Lost Horizons today share a video for their track “Halcyon”, taken from their recently released album In Quiet Moments, which features frequent collaborators and close pals Penelope Isles. Speaking of the track, Simon Raymonde states…

“Loved Penelope Isles from the first time I heard them and loved them even more from the first time I saw them! I released their debut album on Bella Union and my wife Abbey and I also manage them. Jack and Lily  were the first people I asked to be on the album. Penelope Isles supported Lost Horizons on our first UK headline tour and set the bar incredibly high every night. 

The music for Halcyon started with Richie and I improvising in our studio in Brighton but when I brought that track back home, I ditched the music and just started again from scratch. I had just bought an old Tokai guitar in a local guitar shop that reminded me of the guitar Alan Curtis had used in Richie’s old band DIF JUZ and the second I plugged it in for the first time, and played along with Richie’s lonely drum track, the notes just fell out of me. Within an hour or two the track was done and I sent it over to Jack. I adore what he’s done and love that Lily also sings on the song in that glorious section at the end. It was always going to start the album and now I am thrilled it is being released as a single.”

Jack Wolter of Penelope Isles, who also made the dreamy visuals that accompany the track had the below to say…

“The video for Halcyon is made up of footage I collected during my early twenties, whilst studying and living in Cornwall. I felt the need to film a lot in this period of my life. When I started writing the lyrics and getting into what this song was going to be about, I found myself reflecting back to the importance of this time, the people I shared it with and the days we lived. Beautiful relationships providing unworn conversations although all tangled up in warped spaces and darker moments. The song and video are a reflection into the past and how certain times stay with you forever.”

In other exciting news, Lost Horizons will perform a live show, with special guests, at the Scala in the Autumn of 2021. Tickets for the show, which will feature an array of the album’s collaborators, are on sale now. See HERE for more details.

Laura Veirs announces UK tour

Following excellent reviews for her latest album My Echo, out now on Bella Union, Laura Veirs has announced news of an extensive UK tour running throughout October… Dates/info below…

Critical acclaim for My Echo:

“The author of some of the most insightful songs in the modern country-folk canon. ‘Another Space and Time’, which uses stings and a bossa nova beat in its pondering of other realities, and ‘End Times’, with its lilting, Sunday-school piano, are just two opportunities to swoon.” Uncut – 9/10

“It’s gorgeous… The 10 songs drift between intimacy and rich instrumentation. Among the many highlights are the lovely I Sing To The Tall Man and Freedom Feeling, where Veirs’ intimate voice and guitar morph into something so lush and bright it feels like somebody switched the sky on.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“Poignant, cathartic, consistently brilliant… Veirs is one of the greatest American songwriters.” The New Stateman

“Laura Veirs sings with serene grace and clarity. Her voice is pure and clear. It soothes and beguiles.” Financial Times – 4 stars ****

“As breakup albums go, it is surprisingly positive… ‘Turquoise Walls’ is a shiny marvel while ‘Freedom Feeling’ encapsulates hope for a better future.” Sunday Times

“Vividly imagined, richly exploratory songcraft… Bright, beautiful and brimming with resilient wisdom.” Record Collector – 4 stars ****

“There’s vulnerability and candour in the lyrics, and whether tackling infidelity (Turquoise Walls) or celebrating the healing power of nature (Memaloose Island), the rich instrumentation and transporting voice deliver an unexpected but unmistakeable feeling of release.” The Mirror – 4 stars ****

Happy Release Day Lost Horizons

The wait is over… Today Lost Horizons release their anticipated and acclaimed new album In Quiet Moments via Bella Union. To celebrate the release the band have shared a video for the closing track on the album, “This Is The Weather”, which features Karen Peris from the innocence mission on guest vocals. Of the track Karen Peris says: “It is a joy for me to be part of another Lost Horizons album. There was a beautiful spaciousness in the track of piano that I received from Simon, that allowed for hearing and seeing a melody and a scene, with a melancholy that connected immediately with the feeling of missing someone very dear to me.”

In further celebration of the album release Tim Burgess will be hosting one of his legendary Twitter Listening Parties for In Quiet Moments on 4th March while on the 5th March Lost Horizonswill participate in a Reddit AMA at /r/indieheads at 6pm GMT.

“Second album from super-duo contains multitudes… With the knowing retro-etherealism of Every Beat That Passed (featuring Swedish vocalist Kavi Kwai) or Cordelia’s new age tides controlled by John Grant, In Quiet Moments opens out its own space to wander, a many-moods piece for complicated times.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“Lost Horizons return with a 16-song set that expands their palette considerably, including jazzier ventures with Ren Harvieu and soul singer Ural Thomas. Lest anyone forget about Raymonde’s past life as a Cocteau Twin, reverb-soaked collaborations with Kavi Kwai and KookiLou ensure there’s plenty of the old shimmer and spangle to savour, too.” Uncut – 7/10

“Lost Horizons triumph on second album In Quiet Moments… There’s some textbook ethereal elegance but also much restless energy and joy.” PROG

“Absolutely breathtaking… A masterpiece of concept, design and execution.” NARC – 5 Stars *****

“With experienced mood masters Raymonde and Thomas at the tiller In Quiet Moments is holistic audio balm to soothe, hug and give hope in these ‘unprecedented times’ and beyond.” Music OMH – 4 Stars ****

“An epic 16 track record of quite stunning beauty… A masterful sonic journey of discovery.” Contact Music – 5 Stars *****

Lost Horizons have announced news of a London live performance at the Scala in Autumn 2021… Date/info HERE.

Will Stratton returns with ‘The Changing Wilderness’

Bella Union are thrilled to announce the return of Will Stratton whose new album The Changing Wilderness will be released 7th May and is available to pre-order here. Stratton has shared the first track titled “Tokens” along with an animated lyric video.

Of the track Stratton says: “Tokens is a song addressed to the fraternal twins, the most frequent subjects of songs since songs were created: time and love. The afternoon that I was writing it, the weird weather we were having that summer was on my mind. I was thinking about how my perception of time is so tied to my perception of the changing seasons, and consequently, how my perception of time hasn’t been quite as sharp as it once was. I was also thinking about the ending of one of my favourite movies, the 2014 Paul Thomas Anderson film Inherent Vice. The way time shimmers and shifts in that movie is fascinating to me, verging on hypnotic, and I was trying to evoke a little of that feeling in this song.”

Will Stratton’s rich catalogue is proof that the Hudson Valley folk musician thrives on exploration and reflection. Chart his trajectory over his previous six albums and you’ll find a songwriter not content to stay comfortable or do the same thing twice. From his 2007 debut What the Night Said, which he released aged 20, to 2014’s Gray Lodge Wisdom, a resilient and gorgeous LP which documented his bout with cancer, as well as 2017’s Rosewood Almanac, a de facto love-letter to song-writing, his guitar, and his favourite records, the subtle but sizable tweaks to his process, arranging, and writing have been revelations. “I’ve always tried to make the process of making music as much of a source of pleasure and exploration as possible,” says Stratton. So it’s no surprise that The Changing Wilderness, his resonant and clear-eyed seventh album, pushes him to expansive new heights again. 

The 10 tracks on the LP came about from an intense four-year period of soul-searching and change for Stratton, where he knew he needed to change the way he wrote songs. “I was just really sick of introspection,” he says. “I had to write music that felt like it was engaging with the outside world, rather than focusing on what was going on in my own life like on my earlier records.” With the 2016 election, Donald Trump’s Presidency, and rising right-wing extremism on his mind, Stratton set out to interrogate his country’s present crises. Like the best protest music, these songs aren’t didactic or preachy. Instead, they ask more questions than claim to have answers with Stratton’s lyrics taking a scalpel-like approach to the very worst of human nature. 

Take the single ‘Black Hole’ which navigates the human toll of fascism. Midway through the song, its pastoral arrangement briefly fades out, leaving Stratton’s voice central in the mix. He sings, “Hatred corrupts, and it purifies, too / It simplifies thoughts just like love can do / Oh, I miss when it was an optional vice / Something you’d choose when fear was the price.”

Elsewhere, songs like ‘Infertile Air’, bluntly and unflinchingly casts its focus on those who collaborate with the forces of state violence. Over a sparse, almost dirge-like instrumental, it opens with the incisive lines, “When you tore them from her breast / And you drove home in your car / Did you think you’d get to rest / Without denying who you are.” It’s not difficult to draw the connection to ICE and its violent family separation policy. “I was trying to imagine what it feels like to be somebody who is so sure of their own convictions when they’re a tool of the state,” explains Stratton. Another track, the bucolic and rollicking ‘Fate’s Ghost’, finds its depth in more opaque imagery but when Stratton sings, “Where are we going, I shout into the void / Do you feel powerless there, or is it beyond any word?” it’s totally resonant. 

Stratton engineered and mixed every song on The Changing Wilderness from his home studio in Beacon, NY, but he recruited a sizable ensemble of old friends and new collaborators to flesh out the arrangements, including vocalists Maia Friedman, Cassandra Jenkins, Katie Mullins, and Eamon Fogarty, as well as electric guitarist Ben Seretan, upright bassist Carmen Rothwell, saxophonist and clarinetist Justin Keller, and drummers Sean Mullins (Wilder Maker) and Matt Johnson (Jeff Buckley). As a result the songs on the LP are immaculately constructed and produced, some evoking the lushest offerings from Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson while others take on the intimacy of artists like Ted Lucas and Joni Mitchell. Stratton’s keen ear for songs that have no expiration date both sonically and thematically is obvious throughout the track-list. Lead single ‘Tokens’ is ornate and unhurriedly unfolds with some of Stratton’s most evocative lyrics yet by personifying two of the most commonly sung themes in popular music. He sings, “Time, who knows what leads to the fall / Will you end in a crowd, or end all alone?” and “Love, the ways that we change over time / Don’t alter the rules or reset the game.” 
Though Stratton initially sought out to avoid personal song-writing on this LP, his arbitrary rules became untenable as he got deeper into the writing process. “Over the past four years as the world around us got progressively more screwed up, it became impossible for me to write something that wasn’t somewhat introspective,” he says. The Changing Wilderness operates in dichotomies: darkness vs. light and processing your own personal struggles through the vast and seemingly insurmountable problems the world is facing. On “When I’ve Been Born (I’ll Love You),” Stratton sings, “The present is prosaic, the future a disgrace” but it’s not out of bleak resignation. There’s hope at the core of the song and the album as a whole. He sings, “As the oceans rise, I’ll love you / When the air gets thin, I’ll love you / If the fascists win, I’ll love you.”

Lost Horizons & Marissa Nadler share ‘Marie’

Lost Horizons – the project of Cocteau Twins’ Simon Raymonde & Richie Thomas of Dif Juz – released part one of its new album In Quiet Moments at the end of 2020 and is set to release part two, as well as the physical of the double album, on February 26th via Bella Union. Every track on the album features a guest vocalist, and today’s new single “Marie” features Marissa Nadler. The music video footage was created by Nadler while the editing and direction was done by Penelope Isles’ Jack Wolter.

Of the track, Lost Horizons said: “I don’t think there was ever a second I wasn’t going to find a song for Marissa to sing on the new lp. SO much cool stuff came out of our last collaborations on Ojalá, indeed I think we ended up recording four songs from the original idea of doing one! Marissa is a really great & generous collaborator as she really throws herself in deep, and commits to it fully. That is a rare and beautiful gift and Richie and I appreciate it enormously.  It was a beast of a track to mix I’ll be honest, and that had nothing to do with Marissa’s vocals, in fact they were a breeze to mix.  But the initial music that Richie and I improvised in our basement studio in Brighton was a bit messy and we didn’t use a click or anything to keep tempo so fixing anything later was a lost cause, but it is such a cool piece that i loved creating (i think i put 4 maybe 5 bass parts on with my old trusty Fender VI string bass guitar!) that even when it’s kinda falling apart during that instrumental section near the end, i still love it. It probably sounds like it took half an hour to mix but the truth is it took weeks of starting it, scrapping it, starting over, scrapping it, etc. And yes, i fully intend to ask Marissa to contribute to our next one too.”

Marissa Nadler adds: “It was a dream to collaborate with Simon and Ritchie for Lost Horizons again. Marie is an aquatic reverie about this title character entering different dimensions. Maybe we’re all feeling a little submerged, watching the time. This stream of consciousness song came from listening to the track that Simon sent, and birthed this hypnagogic hallucination of a story.” 

Early praise for Lost Horizons’ In Quiet Moments

“Second album from super-duo contains multitudes… With the knowing retro-etherealism of Every Beat That Passed (featuring Swedish vocalist Kavi Kwai) or Cordelia’s new age tides controlled by John Grant, In Quiet Moments opens out its own space to wander, a many-moods piece for complicated times.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“Lost Horizons triumph on second album In Quiet Moments… There’s some textbook ethereal elegance but also much restless energy and joy… Guest vocalists include everyone from John Grant to Porridge Radio.” PROG

“Grand music, lushly orchestrated and beautifully arranged… a terrific sounding album and above all else a wonderful spotlight on amazing voices.” Brooklyn Vegan

“In Quiet Moments is a well-crafted set of lush, cinematic pop and rock with lyrics revolving around death and rebirth” KEXP

Lost Horizons & Ural Thomas share ‘In Quiet Moments’

With their new album In Quiet Moments due for release 26th February via Bella Union, Lost Horizons today share a video for the title track of the LP which features Ural Thomas on vocals. Ural Thomas was born in Louisiana in 1939, learning to sing in church. The seventh of sixteen children, his family relocated to Portland, Oregon when he was a young child. Thomas became a professional singer as a young man in the 1950s, with over forty performances at the Apollo Theatre in Manhattan, New York. He worked with or opened for musicians such as Etta James, Otis Redding, James Brown and Stevie Wonder. Thomas moved back to Portland in 1968. After this not much is known, until the early 2010s when Scott Magee, a Portland-based soul DJ, learned via the owner of Mississippi Records that Thomas – whose early records he spun – still lived in Portland. Despite having weekly jam sessions in his home, a tradition started in the 1970s, Thomas seldom played live shows. Together, Thomas and Magee created Ural Thomas and the Pain, an eight-piece backing band for Thomas’s vocals. The group has released two full length albums: 2016’s self-titled release and 2018’s “The Right Time”. 

Of the track Ural Thomas says: “When I first heard the song, I thought it was such a wonderful thing, both open and calm, with that steady, insistent groove. The chords go from looming to embracing then back again, like a sad, friendly giant. It took a quiet moment to go over it in my mind and then we were off and running with the tune. At times I feel strong and one with the world.  At other times I feel tiny and solitary.  In a way they’re two parts of the same feeling. That sense of being closed in and defined by walls became more real just a short while after we worked on the song.  But we’re all those other things, too—connected, hopeful, with a long arc that will go beyond this time.” 

Simon Raymonde of Lost Horizons adds: “Sometimes you just have a clear vision for a song and then try as you might, it doesn’t quite hit the mark and other times, you’re not quite sure where it’s going and then all of sudden it’s like The Matrix and you’re buzzing! I’d been talking to Ural and his team since I heard about him earlier that year, and they were all working on a new Ural Thomas and The Pain album, but just as I finished the bass part on our piece, which Richie had started at a session in London, my inner voice was screaming “ASK URAL TO SING!” Scott and Brent who are his producers and write with Ural and in his band too, responded very positively to my enquiry and said Ural was into it, and it looked like they could do it all at their studio in Portland AND film him at the same time as they were making a documentary about him! I couldn’t believe my luck. After he was done with the first half of the song I asked if he could make the ending spoken-word in the style of Gil Scott-Heron and he did something ad-libbed which I loved. I then asked Wendi Rose who sings with Spiritualized to add some of her beautiful vocals and I think this took it all to the next level. Paul Gregory and Jonathan Wilson also played some delicious guitar parts which were the fairy dust on top!” 

In Quiet Moments features a stellar array of musical guests including John Grant, C Duncan, Marissa Nadler, 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) was 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.”

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 recently announced news of a London live performance at the Scala in Autumn 2021.