Happy Release Day To Complete Mountain Almanac

Complete Mountain Almanac is the musical collaboration of Norwegian-born, Sweden-based singer and composer Rebekka Karijordand American-born, Italy-based poet, dancer and multimedia artist Jessica Dessner, joined by her brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National. Today, we celebrate the release of their ethereal self titled debut album.

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.

“A potent rumination on climate change and personal circumstances… Complete Mountain Almanac move through spectral folk and full-bodied orchestrations involving the Malmö Symphony Orchestra… Delicate yet powerful, and utterly compelling.” MOJO – 4 stars *****

“An intense juxtaposition of the intimate and the universal framed in beguiling chamber-folk arrangements, with Jessica’s twin brothers Aaron and Bryce Dessner co-producing and adding guitars and exquisite string arrangements to Karijord’s euphonic voice.” Uncut Magazine – 8/10

“A tasty collection of ethereal, choral, new age and chamber folk sounds… An album about climate change in twelve suites representing the healing cycle of nature… ‘May’ is an excellent choice as first single and has an infectious melody, supporting the themes of hope and rebirth.” RnR Magazine – 4 stars ****

“Fears for our fragile planet is a familiar theme but rarely so exquisitely executed as this… The music draws on folk, finds room for fulsome orchestrations, and ebbs and flows like a fjord in Karijord’s native Norway.” The Sun – 4 stars ****

Emma Tricca Announces New Album “Aspirin Sun”

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Emma Tricca has announced the release of her new album Aspirin Sun due out 7th April via Bella Union and available to preorder here. To celebrate the occasion Tricca has shared a colourful and captivating video for first single “King Blixa” directed by Francesco Cabras. Commenting on the track Tricca says: “Since childhood I have always been fascinated by folk stories. From Italo Calvino to Homer to British and French Troubadour ballads. The magical element of turning the impossible into the possible is what inspired this poem/song – like in the line, I would ask the sailors to break their solitude.”

Tricca has also announced news of a London headline show just after the release of the album, performing at The Grace in Highbury & Islington on Wednesday 19th April. Tickets are available here.

“It felt like I was driving through tunnels,” Emma Tricca says of her fourth album – her first for Bella Union. A phosphorescent panorama of undulating colour, shape and sound.

As with any transformation, it is this sense of movement that underpins Aspirin Sun and its bold new form, ebbing and flowing, continually unfurling. The tunnels led the Italian-born, London-based singer-songwriter towards something expansive and far-reaching: an entirely new and experimental collection of songs. But they also drew her closer to her late father, and her memories of him driving them both in his small white Fiat, darting through the Alps and whizzing through darkened passageways, where shafts of light flickered ahead of them in the distance.

Light and shade; past and future; love and loss. “I was in uncharted territory trying to understand what was happening to me,” Tricca says. In the winter of 2018, only months after her mystical third album St. Peter was released, her father died, submerging her in a subaqueous world of grief. “I think that the loss really informed the tunes a lot,” she muses. And the tunes quickly emerged. Tricca decided to spend a few months in New York during the summer of 2019 – and started recording Aspirin Sun in her long-time collaborator Steve Shelley’s studio.

“With this record, it was very much accepting that one does what they do,” Tricca says philosophically. “Don’t try to be anyone else, you can’t fake what you’re not.” She wanted to venture outside her comfort zone, and the result is a kaleidoscopic exploration of what it means to break free from past constraints. From the supernatural swirling and whorling of ‘Through the Poet’s Eyes’ to the haunting susurration of mariachi brass on ‘Space and Time’, the rhythmic echoes of the Beat poets are never far away – a flame that was lit, aged 9, when Tricca read modernist poet Ungaretti’s ‘Mattina’ and went looking for further avant-garde freethinkers.

Ask Tricca how Aspirin Sun feels to her and she’ll describe it as “a weird germination” of disparate influences. A “Wim-Wenders-meets-Fellini-8 ½” kind of set-up – especially ‘Autumn’s Fiery Tongue’ which swells and amplifies into a pulsating, hallucinatory odyssey that came to her in a dream. “You know when the sun is in the sky and it’s so round it looks like an aspirin? This record very much depicts that kind of sky,” Tricca says. It also depicts the discombobulating nature of grief – as overexposed as a blazing ball of gas and light. “I was blindly finding my way through my grief with music and dreams that I wrote down in the morning.”

This new psychedelic horizon could only be fully brought to life by a band she calls her family. The same musicians she collaborated with on her 2018 outing, St. Peter: Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley, Dream Syndicate guitarist Jason Victor, and bass player Pete Galub. All three musicians brought something unique to the record. Pete comes from more of a traditional songwriting background, Steve and Jason are more experimental, and then there’s me, very much in-between. For me, that was magic,” she says. As an only child, Tricca has always been used to solitude. But when the world shut down, her windows flung open. “On the one hand, I’m a loner; on the other, I get so much excitement when I work with other people. If you grew up in a broken family, like I did, when it comes to work and friendship I’m always looking for the family I never had. That’s why, with these guys, I feel complete.”

After her initial stint in Shelley’s studio, Tricca flew back to London only to return to JFK airport in January 2020: a homecoming that she calls “fate” considering what was set to follow. A few months later, the world would irreparably change. “Hell broke loose with Covid,” she says – which only added to the record’s core theme: its sense of alienation. Back in London, she liaised with her New York band over the summer of 2020, working on overdubs and exchanging ideas, “finding a new way with a renewed confidence.”

Reading Frank O’Hara by day and listening to Can, Neu! and Brian Jonestown Massacre by night, Tricca ventured off the beaten path, extending beyond the softer Greenwich Village sound of her 2009 debut Minor White, keen to expand upon the classical Italian melodies that she’d grown up listening to as a young girl: Morricone, Puccini and Rossini. She carries these strong melodies in her blood just like the rhythms of the beat poets. “That’s my natural state,” she concludes.

Darkness and danger are always there, Tricca muses. But just like those darting beams of light she remembers from her childhood, racing through the Alps with her father, hope is never far from view. It pulsates brightly in the sky. “Time will go / Racing through space and an old fashioned waltz,” she sings on Aspirin Sun’s final track, ‘Space and Time.’ A mariachi trumpet calls us home.

Aspirin Sun tracklist below…

1. Devotion

2. Christodora House

3. Autumn’s Fiery Tongue

4. Leaves

5. King Blixa

6. Rubens’ House

7. Through The Poet’s Eyes

8. Space and Time

New Liela Moss Album “Internal Working Model” Out Today

“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 the pretence, 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 in attachment 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 the energy. 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.

Acclaim for Internal Working Model:

“Moss consistently retains her pop power and dazzling songwriting prowess. ‘Internal Working Model’ will crash out of your speakers, a melodic behemoth of industrial-tinted art pop.” Clash – 8/10

“A passionate plea for empathy and reconnection… Striking sonics match her for zeal and daring, gargantuan, sometimes retro-futurist grooves vying with layered vocals and dark soundscapes… A record of rare ambition and thematic complexity.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“Moss rages at the world’s iniquities over retro-synth grooves on ‘Vanishing Shadows’ with Gary Numan on guest vocals, and sketches an empathetic prescription for our ills on the hauntingly tender ‘New Day’. She’s angry, but she’s trying to offer some answers too: more power to her for such positivity.” Uncut – 7/10

“An impassioned career high from a committed, commanding voice.” Record Collector – 4 stars ****

“Vanishing Shadows finds her silver vocals decisively leading the way over fractious synth backdrops, while more mellow melters like New Day are fuelled by the force of her questioning insights. This is Moss at her most switched-on.” DJ Magazine

Philip Selway Shares Captivating “Picking Up Pieces” Video

With his new album Strange Dance due out 24th February via Bella Union, from which he last month shared a video for lead track “Check For Signs Of Life”, today Philip Selway shares a captivating follow-up video for his new single and LP highlight “Picking Up Pieces”. Driven by a motoric pulse alongside the guitar work of Portishead’s Adrian Utley, supplemented by distinctive string arrangements, the track beautifully exemplifies the expansive and cinematic sound that Selway has forged on his new record.

This video is the second in a series for Selway’s forthcoming album and is again directed by William Williamson, with cinematography by award-winning DOP Adric Watson. The video for ‘Picking Up Pieces’ continues the story begun with the video for ‘Check for Signs of Life’ and features the same quartet of iconic dancers – Siobhan Davies, Kenneth OlumuyiwaTharp, Liam Francis and Simone Davies – with the piece also choreographed by Liam and Simone. Produced by Uncommon Creative Studio, ‘Picking Up Pieces’ is filmed as a one shot, on 16mm, and features a spinning camera movement designed to mimic the lyrics. The video takes it’s gorgeous golden brown Autumnal colour palette from one of a collection of paintings made by artist Stewart Geddes in response to the album. Speaking about the video, director William Williamson says: “We all viewed this film as a continuation of the last, with the choreography having echoes of our characters worlds whilst simultaneously unfolding new elements and emotions.”

Commenting on the track Selway says: “Picking Up Pieces is a song about the masking that we do when we’re young adults. It’s a time of life when your sense of identity can feel shaky, you can feel anxious about making the grade, and life can feel that it’s spinning out of control, but you try to hide this from everyone.”

In other news, Selway has added a special London event to his upcoming live schedule, performing with The Elysian Collective at Rough Trade East on Monday 27th February followed by album signing. Selway also recently announced a run of UK and European tour dates for May 2023 including a headline performance at the Union Chapel in London. Upcoming live info below:

Monday 30th  January – Norwich – Arts Centre

Tuesday 31st January – Cambridge – Junction

Wednesday 1st February – Hebden Bridge – Trades Club

Thursday 2nd February – Stockton-On-Tees – Georgian Theatre

Friday 3rd February – Guildford – The Boileroom

Monday 27th February – London – Rough Trade East

Thursday 4th May – Brussels – Ancienne Belgique Club

Friday 5th May – Paris – Café Del La Danse

Saturday 6th May – Amsterdam – Melkweg

Sunday 7th May – Berlin – Columbia Theater

Tuesday 9th May – Copenhagen – The Koncerthuset Studio 2

Monday 15th May – Glasgow – Oran Mor

Tuesday 16th May – Leeds – Brudenell Social Club

Thursday 18th May – London – Union Chapel

Friday 19th May – Bristol – Thekla

Saturday 20th May – Birmingham – Hare & Hounds

Sunday 21st May – Manchester – Gorilla

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 Selwayusing 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.

Lowly Debut “Seasons”

With their new album Keep Up The Good Work due for release 17th February via Bella Union, and having previously shared the title track and “You Are Good And I Love You”, today Lowly reveal their new single and LP standout “Seasons”. Commenting on the track the Danish quintet say: “Seasons originates from a poem about the sun dragging the seasons over its shoulders as if it were a normal day job, coincidentally influencing all life surrounding it. And as the song progresses and the chorus hits, it turns into an abstract storytelling from a human perspective about time and life’s drifting by. The production is overwhelming and adventurous, with a pulsating bass and dynamic drums creating a spectral and rhythmic framework around the vocal. The song starts out minimalistic and simple but grows into more and more layers, giving the listener a feeling of being thrown in a rocket into space towards the sun.” 

The internationally acclaimed quintet from Denmark continue to develop their creative process, embracing other peoples’ affection and letting it blend into their songwriting. The result of this journey: Keep Up The Good Work, the band’s most heartfelt work to date.

Sometimes the support we need doesn’t lie in complex answers. Sometimes it can be found in the most simple encouragement. This reflection is embodied throughout their third album, Keep Up The Good Work. This music has been forged within a maelstrom of lockdown restrictions and critical life events; often working together virtually, and eventually being together physically and writing and recording as a group.

“We know each other really well after 8 years as friends, colleagues and collective creators. We know what we’re each going through in life, and we can hear it in the music we make together; it’s always a personal reflection of us in the given moment. You can hear that we’ve become older, that we have more to tell. During the pandemic we experienced both the joys of having children and the sorrow of losing people we cared for. Life and death struck us, you could say, which maybe seems rather banal or cliché to be writing about. But for that reason, we think this record speaks universally, and has the potential of resonating with many people.”

Lowly have been once again recording in Aarhus with producer and engineer Anders Boll, who also produced their two previous albums Hifalutin (2019) and Heba (2017). Anders has almost become the sixth member of the band, navigating five strong-willed musicians towards a kaleidoscopic and uniquely interwoven sound. It was in the studio that the band dreamt up the idea to ask their followers on social media to become a part of the album:

“We asked people to send us recordings of what they would say to the people they cared for to give encouragement or support. Our DMs were flooded with positive affirmations and personal stories about what people tell their kids, friends and loved ones. Many of them are quite simple, but also effective thoughts to meditate upon, instead of focusing on something destructive you’d otherwise bang your head against” says singer Soffie Viemose.

Many of the affirmations are audible on their first single “Keep Up The Good Work”. It has a warm and gentle production aesthetic, making space for the empathic theme about parenting, and its effect on the body. The chanted message of the chorus becomes the mantra we all (not just parents) need when we doubt ourselves the most; said out loud, clear and repeated, until the body and mind believes and survives from it:

Keep Up The Good Work

Keep Up The Good Work

Keep Up The Good Work

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.