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.

A.A. Williams covers The Pixies

With her new album of cover versions Songs From Isolation due out 12th February via Bella Union, A.A. Williams has today shared another new track from the LP. “Where Is My Mind?” is a starkly beautiful piano and vocal reimagining of The Pixies classic from 1988. Of the track Williams says: “I was so glad when a fan suggested Where Is My Mind? for Songs From Isolation – it was a pleasure to work on a song that is so well-known and well-loved. To create an arrangement that was true to the original and also presented it in a new light was challenging. To ensure that the much-beloved melodies were treated with due care I kept things pretty sparse, with simple, rhythmic piano underpinning the legendary topline.”

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

A.A. Williams will head out on tour in 2021. See here for full dates.

Happy Release Day Laura Groves

As one of Bella Union’s newest signees, we are delighted to share the gorgeous new EP from Laura Groves, titled ‘A Private Road’. To celebrate, Groves has also announced news of a special socially distanced London livestream show for the week after release at Folklore in Hackney… Tickets can be found here.

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

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

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

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

Lost Horizons release Part 1 of ‘In Quiet Moments’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lost Horizons share ‘Every Beat That Passed’

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

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

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

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

Hilang Child shares ‘King Quail’

With his new album Every Mover due for release 8th January via Bella Union, and having previously shared videos for the tracks ‘Good To Be Young’‘Seen The Boreal’ and ‘Anthropic (Cold Times)’, today Hilang Child shares a distinctive video for new single “King Quail”. Of the track Ed Riman aka Hilang Child says: “King Quail is about taking a step back and realising the absurdity of modelling one’s life and appearance around what you think others want to see, rather than living for yourself. It’s about learning to be comfortable the way you are, breaking away from that fear of rejection and the feeling that we have to exaggerate ourselves into some showpiece to gain the validation of others. The song started one night in Wyldest frontwoman Zoe Mead’s basement studio in Greenwich. I had this OP-1 loop and a motorik 808 beat, which I’d been messing around with for a while. We spent the night jamming over it and shaping it into a psychedelic, krautrocky pop-song with Zoe adding spacey guitar and myself reworking the drums, allowing the groove to loosen up. We ended up using a large chunk of the demo in the final version with my co- producer JMAC (Troye Sivan, Haux, Lucy Rose) adding some finishing touches to hone the song.” The video, directed by Riman and filmed by Elliot Tatler, can be viewed below…

“The greatest thing about being a musician is experiencing it with other people,” says Ed Riman, the Brighton-based Eurasian singer, songwriter and sound-scapist who records as Hilang Child. “Whether that’s playing with others, creating together, sharing a vision, whatever, I just think in all aspects it’s a totally elevated experience when you’re not alone.”

Proof rings out with force and feeling on Hilang Child’s superlative second album, Every Mover. In 2018, Riman delivered a serene, textured debut album in Years, rich in sound and feeling. Lauren Laverne, Q, MOJO and others lavished praise, but the “isolating process” of making the album left Riman hungry to find alternative ways of working. Meanwhile, the “lonely, pressured” aftermath of Years found Riman grappling with “rough self-esteem and anxiety issues”, amplified in part by social media’s ‘fulfilment narratives’. Duly, he set out to navigate and overcome these mindsets, drawing deeply on his own insecurities and those he recognised in others.

These themes converge emphatically on Every Mover, an album steeped in everyday emotional states and crafted for cathartic, communal performance. Drawing on a rich spread of collaborators, sounds and themes, Riman uses his frustrations as the impetus to transform the brimming promise of Years into upfront and expansive new shapes. “I wanted it to sound a bit gutsier than the first album,” he says, succinctly, “heavier and closer to the kind of stuff that hits me when I go to shows or blast music in the car. I started out in music as a drummer playing for pop or beat-driven artists and grew up listening to louder stuff, but a lot of the music I’ve made as Hilang Child has been more ethereal. I wanted to bring it back to a place that feels more ‘me’ and make more of a thing of having big hypnotic drums, aggressive bass, ripping distorted instruments and a general energy to it.”      

“Good to be Young” serves swift notice of this leap, its banked synths and twinkling sound clusters leading to an assertion of fresh force when the main beat lands and a congregation of friends – AK Patterson, Paul Thomas Saunders, Dog in the Snow, Ellen Murphy, members of Penelope Isles – unite for the gang-vocal refrains. “It’s all iridescent colour I’m on,” Riman exults, a claim lived up to on the full-flush folktronica of “Shenley”. A reflection on spiralling insecurity, “Seen the Boreal” ups the ante again with its monk-ish chorales, looping samples, spectral woodwinds (from multi-instrumentalist John ‘Rittipo’ Moore, of Public Service Broadcasting and Bastille previous) and ecstatic chorus, Riman transforming a meditation on hindsight’s limiting effects into a spur to look forwards. And surge forwards he does with the glittering synths, spacey guitars, and Krautrock propulsion of “King Quail”, developed in jam sessions with dream-pop wonder Zoe Mead (Wyldest) in her basement studio.

Riman’s sounds are enriched wherever you turn, from the epic prog-tronica of “The Next Hold” to the vocal release and layered arrangement of “Play ’Til Evening”; a kind of summit meeting between Surrender-era Chemical Brothers and Fleet Foxes in the high church of ecstatic sound. The treated chorales of “Magical Fingertip” and naked lyrics of the festival-sized new single “Anthropic (Cold Times)” showcase a fertile push-pull of lush arrangements and wide-open emotions in Riman’s sound; on the latter, Rittipo’s horns brim with expressive power.

Brought to a sublime close with “Steppe”, the resulting album projects its own epiphanic force. The birth was not always smooth: due to Covid-19, tours were cancelled and studios closed. Thankfully, most of the main parts were recorded pre-lockdown between East London, Gateshead, Brighton, Wandsworth and elsewhere, before mixing proceeded remotely. Meanwhile, alongside indie-pop trio OUTLYA’s Will Bloomfield (percussion/co-production on ‘Play ’Til Evening’), visual design collective Tough Honey (accompanying videos) and other collaborators, Riman’s bond with co-producer JMAC (Troye Sivan, Haux, Lucy Rose) proved crucial. “It felt freeing to work collaboratively and have that push-and-pull of ideas,” says Riman. “Even the moments where we didn’t see eye-to-eye made it feel like I wasn’t alone, with someone else working just as passionately on the project.”

That sense of passion lights up Every Mover, an album that hymns the redemptive qualities of richly expressive music crafted in simpatico unison with friends. “I get told I’m quite an openly emotional person,” says Riman, “and I suppose the extremes in this album reflect that! But I also wanted the album to roughly follow the mental flow of feeling worthless, then recognising it, then accepting your shortcomings and trying to work on it, then coming out unscathed on the other side. I’m still not fully out of the spiral. The Covid apocalypse, alongside some personal life changes, have definitely caused it to resurface. But I’m glad I made this album as a kind of cathartic primer on trying to deal with it.” Now, time for other people to experience it too.