Happy Release Day Laura Veirs

The consistently brilliant Laura Veirs sees the release of her 11th studio album today and we are delighted for you all to hear it. The album features the previously released singles ‘Burn Too Bright’, ‘Turquoise Walls’ and ‘Another Space and Time’.

“My world was turned upside down in my divorce and it felt like ‘nothing new’ to be forced into further deep uncertainty with the pandemic. I was already prepped for the kind of thinking required for dealing with the unknown. Also, as an artist you always have to deal with that fact anyways since art is such a precarious way to make a living.”“My Echo is my 11th solo album. It’s my ‘my songs knew I was getting divorced before I did’ album. My conscious mind was trying as hard as I could to keep my family together but my subconscious mind was working on the difficult struggles in my marital life. I was part of a “Secret Poetry Group” that met and wrote poems monthly for a year during the writing of this record. Many of my poems turned into songs for this album. By the time the album was being mixed last fall, my ex-husband/producer Tucker Martine and I had decided to go our separate ways. We were a great musical team for many years but we struggled to be compatible in our marriage and family life and that struggle is reflected in this album.

In this new batch of songs I imagine escaping from some sort of prison or cage. Advancing age, the confines of domesticity, our oppressive government and the threat of the apocalypse permeate these songs. In these songs my heart craves certainty and permanence but none is to be found. It’s an album about disintegration. It reveals my artist’s intuition at work.

Although these songs were written before quarantine they are strangely relevant to times in which we find ourselves currently. You will find me staring at the walls (Turquoise Walls). You will find me feeling grateful to be alive (Memaloose Island). You will find me accepting the ephemeral nature of life (Vapor Trails and All the Things). You will find me searching for personal freedom while feeling trapped (Freedom Feeling). You will find me trying to accept that sometimes the best thing to do is to sit still and do nothing at all (Another Space and Time).

Produced by Tucker Martine in the summer and fall of 2019. My Echo features guest appearances from Jim James, Bill Frisell, Karl Blau, Matt Ward and others.”

Tim Burgess debuts ‘The Ascent Of The Ascended’

Having last month announced news of his new 6-track EP, Ascent Of The Ascended, and shared the beautiful lead track ‘Yours. To Be’, Tim Burgess today shares a video-of-the year contender for the EP’s title track, directed by Tim Pope. The video features our hero dressed in à la mode angel garb traversing rough terrain before taking to the skies in a microlight and flying off into the sunset… though no doubt returning home in time to host one of his legendary twitter listening parties.

Of the track and video Burgess says: “The Ascent of the Ascended – it’s about where we want to be, compared to where we find ourselves and how to bridge that gap. I sent the song to Tim Pope and he said he’d be up for making a video, his ideas really captured the atmosphere. It was quite a moment for me – I am a huge fan of Tim’s. Plus I got to fly and have a set of wings.”

The Ascent Of The Ascended EP contains two superb new tracks, “Yours. To Be”, and “The Ascent Of The Ascended”, recorded soon after his recent solo album was finished, as well as four tracks recorded in NYC back in March as a live session for Paste magazine. Three of the tracks are from I Love The New Sky alongside a new version of The Charlatan’s classic ‘The Only One I Know’.

Burgess says: “There was an energy that came from recording the album with such a brilliant band – I didn’t want it to end, I wanted to record a bit of a magnum opus, which is where Ascent of the Ascended came in. I’d always wanted to work with Charles Hayward from This Heat, so we gave him a ring and he said yeah. With “Yours. To Be” being almost like an instant feeling you get in a moment, very rarely in your life – the two songs are so different but they somehow complement each other. So an EP was the perfect idea. We had so many plans for playing live this year – from South by Southwest to Glastonbury and everything in between. But that wasn’t to be. We played four shows in New York before lockdown happened – so our session for Paste Magazine was such a rare event, we’ve included the songs to complete the EP.” 

Tim Burgess has also announced news of a tour for 2021. Full dates below…

April 2021 UK tour dates:

Monday 13th April – Dublin – Whelans *(SOLD-OUT!)*

Tuesday 14th April – Belfast – Ulster Sports Club

Thursday 16th April – Manchester – Night & Day *(SOLD-OUT!)*

Friday 17th April – Leeds – Brudenell Social Club *(SOLD-OUT!)*

Saturday 18th April – Manchester – Yes *(SOLD-OUT!)*

Monday 20th April – Kendal – Brewery

Tuesday 21st April – Glasgow – King Tuts *(SOLD-OUT!)*

Thursday 23rd April – Nottingham – Rescue Rooms

Friday 24th April – Cardiff – Clwb Ifor Bach

Saturday 25th April – Bristol – Thekla *(SOLD-OUT!)*

Monday 27th April – Birmingham – Hare and Hounds *(SOLD-OUT!)*

Tuesday 28th April – London – Oslo *(SOLD-OUT!)*

Wednesday 29th April – Portsmouth – Wedgwood Rooms

A.A. Williams announces ‘Songs From Isolation’

Following excellent reviews for Forever Blue, her July-released debut album, A.A. Williams today announces news of Songs From Isolation, a 9-track LP of cover versions, released 12th February via Bella Union and available to pre-order here. 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.

To mark the announcement Williams has shared her version of “Lovesong” by The Cure. Of the track Williams says: “Lovesong was one of the first songs suggested by fans for the Songs From Isolation series, and was one of my favourites to rework – the original conjures up such nostalgic feelings, I really wanted to honour as many of elements of it as possible. The lyrics are so beautiful and tender and I wanted to shine a light on them in this version, so I’ve tried to create a delicate backdrop for them out of the melodic elements of The Cure’s original.”

A.A. Williams has also 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 some UK headline shows, festival appearances and culminating in a special Songs From Isolation performance in September.

“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 ****

“An impressively confident sound-world… cinematic and majestic.” Financial Times

“Beautifully meditative… music that hypnotises… An impressive debut.” PROG

“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

This year has seen Williams share tracks and videos for ‘All I Asked For (Was To End It All)’‘Melt’ and ‘Love And Pain’ from Forever Blue as well as a stunning cover version of the Deftones track ‘Be Quiet And Drive’ from her Songs From Isolation project.

Making her stage debut in April 2019 and selling out her first headline show at London’s prestigious Southbank Centre less than a year later, A.A. Williams has hit the ground running. Similarly, the acclaim for her performances and her music has been unanimous from the start. After one self-titled EP and the 10” vinyl collaboration Exit in Darkness with Japanese post-rockers MONO, the London-based singer-songwriter signed to Bella Union and made a stunning debut album, Forever Blue.

A rapturous blend of post-rock and post-classical, Forever Blue smoulders with uncoiling melodies and haunted atmospheres, shifting from serenity to explosive drama, often within the same song. Williams is a fantastic musician as well as songwriter, playing the guitar, cello and piano, and her voice has the controlled delivery of a seasoned chanteuse whilst still channelling the rawest of emotions.

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.”

Lost Horizons share ‘I Woke Up With An Open Heart’ Remix

The first Lost Horizons single from the forthcoming album, came out a couple of weeks ago and now  “I Woke Up With An Open Heart” feat The Hempolics gets the remix treatment by On-U Sound founder and dub legend Adrian Sherwood, and if that isn’t enough to brighten your Thursday it comes wrapped up with a special visual to accompany, created by Brighton visual artist “innerstrings”, who worked with Lost Horizons on all of their 2017/18 touring doing live oil-based projections. The On-U Sound remix + dub version will be available on Bandcamp from tomorrow as part of Bandcamp Friday. 

Lost Horizons is the musical project of former–Cocteau Twin and Bella Union boss Simon Raymonde and Richie Thomas of early 4AD figureheads Dif Juz. 

The original track comes from In Quiet Moments, a 16 track double album, to be released in 2 parts. The first 8 songs will be out digitally on Dec 4 with the full 16 songs on 2 beautiful pieces of coloured vinyl on Feb 26th. Pre-order HERE.

The album features guest vocals from the likes of John Grant, Porridge Radio, Karen Peris (innocence mission), a rare outing of Tim Smith (Midlake), Penelope Isles, Laura Groves, and several new artists as well. It is a follow up to their much acclaimed 2017 album Ojalá.