Landshapes release “Whale Song”

– an experiment in evolutionary music –

This project arose from an interest in a new musical form – the hybrid.  Similar to a remix, this form would treat the stems and sounds from an existing song as objects, with which to include, discard, expand, reduce, stretch etc.  However, it would give the artist greater creative freedom to remould however much of the material they choose and the ability to add as much original material as they like to create their own track.  Unlike a remix, the track wouldn’t need to be recognisably linked to the original.

The idea was to see what would happen if this process was repeated successively by different artists.  Would there be anything left of the original?  What threads would carry through and how far?  To what extent would you be able to hear the evolution?

The project takes inspiration from the transmission of songs by humpack whales across the oceans.  In this process, which is one of thes most elaborate acoustic displays in the animal kingdom, hybrid songs are created when current songs, containing sequences and phrases are spliced together with similar sounds and phrases arranged in a similar pattern.  This creates new songs, which are constantly changing over temporal distances in a process of cultural evolution.

Landshapes set off the process back in 2014 when pondering what to do with a track, ‘Sea Snail’, which was kept back from the album ‘Heyoon’, released in 2015.  They decided to set off the chain, starting a migration which took two years to complete and travelled across the Atlantic ocean four times.  The project included many artists connected to and admired by Landshapes: Auclair, Tomaga, North America, Celebration, Barbaros, Doomsquad, Rozi Plain and Cosmo Sheldrake, from labels such as Transgressive, Lost Map Records, Bella Union and living in London, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Liverpool and Toronto.  All of the artists only heard the previous hybrid at any point. 

https://youtu.be/PfqV-_Yk0qQ

The project finished with ‘Collapse’, a track by Landshapes.  This project will announce Landshapes’ forthcoming album ‘Contact’, which will be released in September 2020.

Accompanying the audio is a collaborative original artwork created in response to the music.  It comprises a 1.5m x 10m paper scroll developed in Cornwall by Gabriel Vyvyan and Sandra Goodenough.  They created their own visual hybrid of each track, using the abstraction of dance and physical movement to translate the sounds into gesture, then gesture into a purely visual medium.  Over a year in the planning and making, the scroll uses traditional materials such as ink, gesso and gold leaf to capture the essential dynamism of each track.

I Break Horses shares I Live At Night (Live At Night)

Having released her new album Warnings on May 8th via Bella Union, I Break Horses today shares a live video performance for “I Live At Night”, which is also now available digitally on streaming platforms. The video recorded live in Lindén’s back garden was originally broadcast as part of the Bella Union ILOVERECORDSTORES day celebrations.

“Vivid, noirish narratives that are well-set to their masterful, atmospheric music” NME – 8/10

“A beautiful record tempered to a slower pace of life.” The Line of Best Fit

“The best I Break Horses album so far, which fulfils their Beach House-go-Kraftwerk promise, in metronomic, reverie-inducing songs… Hypnotic stuff.” Q – 4 stars ****

“The music is statelier than ever: a hypnotic, electronic take on shoegazing framing Linden’s bleached-out voice with a pulsating keyboard wash and twinkling arpeggios. A mood piece seemingly reflecting on heartbreak, the album is crowned by the extraordinary, seven-minutes-plus ‘Death Engine’, where Linden’s emotions are at their rawest.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“Lushly layered art-pop songs such as ‘I’ll Be The Death Of You’, which channels Kraftwerk with its relentless beats and synth arpeggios, and the epic ‘Death Engine’ on which Linden’s ethereal vocals encapsulate shoegaze at it’s dreamiest best.” Uncut – 7/10

“Lush and cinematic… Linden builds huge walls of sound, one minute Bach-like, the next evoking Kraftwerk, as her beautiful singing voice, midway between Dusty Springfield and Bat For Lashes, delivers lyrics of real anger and bite.” Sunday Times

Warnings majors in the sort of gently woozy homemade synthscapes that defined its predecessor, most effective on I’ll Be The Death Of You and the nimble, propulsive, Kraftwerk-influenced Neon Lights.” The Observer

The Flaming Lips share ‘Dinosaurs On the Mountain’

Today, The Flaming Lips release a new track and video, “Dinosaurs On The Mountain,” from their forthcoming album American Head set for release on 11th September via Bella Union in the UK/Europe and Warner Records in the US. “Dinosaurs” follows on the tailwinds of the plaintive ‘Flowers Of Neptune 6’ and the heartfelt ‘My Religion Is You’. “Dinosaurs On The Mountain” was filmed during quarantine in The Lips’ home state of Oklahoma and directed by George Salisbury and Wayne Coyne for delo creative.

American Head finds The Flaming Lips basking in more reflective lyrical places as Wayne Coyne explains in a long form story about the album. Excerpt below: 

“Even though The Flaming Lips are from Oklahoma we never thought of ourselves as an AMERICAN band. I know growing up (when I was like 6 or 7 years old) in Oklahoma I was never influenced by, or was very aware of any musicians from Oklahoma. We mostly listened to the Beatles and my mother loved Tom Jones (this is in the 60’s)… it wasn’t till I was about 10 or 11 that my older brothers would know a few of the local musician dudes. 

So… for most of our musical life we’ve kind of thought of ourselves as coming from ‘Earth’… not really caring WHERE we were actually from. So for the first time in our musical life we began to think of ourselves as ‘AN AMERICAN BAND’… telling ourselves that it would be our identity for our next creative adventure. We had become a 7-piece ensemble and were beginning to feel more and more of a kinship with groups that have a lot of members in them. We started to think of classic American bands like The Grateful Dead and Parliament-Funkadelic and how maybe we could embrace this new vibe.

The music and songs that make up the AMERICAN HEAD album are based in a feeling. A feeling that, I think, can only be expressed through music and songs. We were, while creating it, trying to NOT hear it as sounds… but to feel it. Mother’s sacrifice, Father’s intensity, Brother’s insanity, Sister’s rebellion…I can’t quite put it into words.

Something switches and others (your brothers and sisters and mother and father…your pets) start to become more important to you…in the beginning there is only you… and your desires are all that you can care about…but… something switches.. I think all of these songs are about this little switch.” 

Emmy The Great Returns

Emmy The Great has announced news of her new solo album April /月音 released 9th October via Bella Union and available to preorder here. First single “Dandelions / Liminal” is a song about being OK with uncertainty, and learning to co-exist with your own sorrow, and the sorrows of the world. 

“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.

Happy Release Day A.A. Williams

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 has today released a stunning debut album, Forever Blue, to much fanfare.

“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

“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 Magazine – 8/10

Father John Misty + Jonathan Wilson release fundraising albums

Both Father John Misty and Jonathan Wilson have announced news of fundraising covers EPs, available tomorrow 3rd July through Bandcamp’s “No Revenue Share Day”.

Father John Misty’s Anthem +3 is a digital EP featuring covers of Leonard Cohen, Yusuf/Cat Stevens, and Link Wray, that will be available tomorrow, July 3rd through Bandcamp’s “No Revenue Share Day.” Anthem +3 will then see a wider release through all other DSPs July 14th via Bella Union for the UK/Europe and Sub Pop for the rest of the world.
 
Anthem was recorded a few weeks ago with long-time collaborator and producer Jonathan Wilson at Wilson’s Fivestar Studios in Topanga, California. The additional three covers were recorded over the past few years by Wilson (“One of Us Cannot Be Wrong,” “Trouble”), and Haxan Cloak (“Fallin’ Rain”) and have all been previously released.

Proceeds from Anthem +3 will benefit both CARE Action and Ground Game LA.

CARE is a leading international humanitarian organization fighting global poverty that places special focus on working alongside poor women who, equipped with the proper resources, can assist whole families and entire communities escape poverty through improved basic education, prevention of the spread of HIV, increased access to clean water and sanitation, expanded economic opportunities and the protection of natural resources. CARE also delivers emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters and helps people rebuild their lives.
 
Ground Game LA is a community-driven organization dedicated to building power for the residents of LA. Since 2017 Ground Game LA has been connecting with Angelenos about housing, immigration, civic participation, homelessness, criminal justice reform, militarization, and more. Whether through coalition building, issue campaign organizing or knocking on doors, Ground Game LA empowers residents to actively shape the Los Angeles they want to see.
 
Father John Misty released the live album Off-Key in Hamburg in March on Bandcamp to benefit the MusiCares Covid-19 Fund which has generated over $80,000 in support. Off-Key in Hamburg is now available on all DSP platforms.

Jonathan Wilson’s covers EP is titled The Way I Feel & More. Of the EP Wilson says: “So I’ve put together an EP… It’s a collection of covers I love: Bill Fay, Gordon Lightfoot, Moby Grape, and The Four Tops. I’m so happy to share it with y’all. It’s available exclusively on Bandcamp to benefit MusiCares Covid-19 Fund. MusiCares is an organization that my fellow musicians lean on and need now more than ever. When it comes to raising awareness and money for MusiCares I always think of my friend and someone I love recording with – the great Gerald Johnson, the bass master from CSNY and the Steve Miller Band.  When he had issues with his health as a lifetime session musician, MusiCares was there and made it possible for my friend to get the proper treatment he deserves. Long live MusiCares, and each download of my EP will help their noble cause in our musical community.” 

Father John Misty’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s “One of us Cannot Be Wrong” and Wilson’s Gordon Lightfoot cover of “The Way I Feel” were both produced by Wilson and recorded live to tape with a band of over 15 musicians including drummer James Gadson. The session took place nearly ten years ago in LA. This is the first time Wilson’s recording has been heard. Misty’s “One of us Cannot Be Wrong” was recorded for a MOJO covermount CD.