The members of the acclaimed duo Lost Horizons — Cocteau Twins‘ and Bella Union Records label head Simon Raymonde (bass. guitar, keys, production) and Dif Juz’s Richie Thomas (drums, keys, guitar) — each ended a 20+ year hiatus from creating music with the release of their full-length debut together, 2017’s Ojaiá, which derived its title from the Spanish word for “hopefully” or the the idiomatic expression, “God willing.” “These days, we need hope more than ever, for a better world,” Thomas said in press notes 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!”
Seemingly, the state of the world has gotten much worse and much more dire since the release of Ojalá. The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the viciously inequitable flaws of our socioeconomic systems and our blind selfishness and greed. We’re on the brink of irrevocable climate catastrophe. Millions across the world are risking life and limb, migrating to wherever they can as a result of climate change, socioeconomic instability and civil war. But one small portion of Thomas’ hopes have been fulfilled: the duo reconvened to write and record their acclaimed sophomore album In Quiet Moments.
Written and recorded during pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, In Quiet Moments‘ material is inspired by the sense of existential doom, fear, uncertainty and anxiety of the larger world — and deep heartache: Just as the duo were settling into the studio to craft the largely improvised, instrumental bedrock of the album’s material, Raymonde’s mother died.
As a response, Raymonde threw himself into his work as 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.” The duo forged ahead, crafting 16 instrumental tracks that they sent to an eclectic array of guest vocalists including Ural Thomas, Penelope Isles‘ Jack Wolter, The Hempolics Nubiya Brandon, Tim Smith, Gemma Dunleavy, the innocence mission’s Karen Peris, Horse Thief‘s Cameron Neal, Marissa Nadler, Porridge Radio‘s Dana Margolin, John Grant, Ballet School‘s Rosie Blair, Penelope Isles’ Lily Wolter (as her solo recording project KookieLou) and an impressive list of others.
When they sent the instrumental tracks to their then-prospective guest vocalists, Raymonde suggested a guided 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.” Roughly half of the album’s lyrics were written during the middle of pandemic-related lockdowns but as it turns out, Raymonde in particular, saw a sliver lining: people were forced to slow down and take careful stock of themselves and their lives. Interestingly, after having heard a lyric written by Ural Thomas, Raymonde singled out on the phrase “in quiet moments,” and thought it would be a perfect album title. “It just made sense,” he says. “This moment of contemplation in life is really beautiful.”
Although generally centered around loss and heartbreak, the album’s material is imbued with a sense of hope. And as a result, the album subtly leans in the direction of rebirth more so than death. “I think it’s more joyous than Ojalá,” Thomas says. “But both albums have a great energy about them.” That shouldn’t be surprising as both Lost Horizons albums find the duo and their various collaborators on a journey through a dizzying area of moods and voices.
Lost Horizons’ teamed up with Penelope Isles’ Lily Wolter (a.k.a. KookieLou) on In Quiet Moments single “Heart of a Hummingbird,” a widescreen yet hazy bit of shoegaze that focuses on the confusing and often contradictory feelings that love and heartache inspire — in particular, longing, desperation, uncertainty, acceptance and denial.
Lost Horizons’ Simon Raymonde, along with Penelope Isles’ Lilly Wolter teamed up on slow-burning and gorgeous standalone single “Florida.” Centered around atmospheric synths, shimmering pedal steel, sinuous bass lines and Wolter’s ethereal cooing, “Florida” is a dreamy and introspective song featuring a narrator, who looks at herself and a romantic relationship with a very adult, unvarnished honesty.
Directed by Jack and Lily Wolter, the video for “Florida” further establishes the duo’s reputation for doing as much as possible in a DIY fashion: Featuring a mix of hand-made illustrations and animation, the video follows Lily Wolter in a paper mâché air balloon on a journey through weird and fantastical landscapes and views.
“Like most videos my brother Jack and I make, this one was most certainly trial and error,” Lily Wolter explains. “A lot of the time we find ourselves surrounded in a jungle of paints, flowers, glitter, string, lava lamps and makeshift green screens and say, ‘what have we gotten ourselves into?’ Despite the hours of drawings and the former attempts to make something that suited the trance-like, flowing, softness of the song, we got there in the end! The lyrics are about a time I spent on tour in America a few years back. We wanted to show an abstract journey overlooking all sorts of weird and wonderful views. I’ve always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon, but I reckon it would be pretty damn scary. Big thanks to our mum for assisting with the paper-mâché balloons, to our dear friend Josh for the helping hand, and to Lost Horizons for wanting me to sing on their music, I’m once again, truly honoured.”