Tag: Bella Union Records

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Penelope Isles Release a Deceptively Sun-Dappled Reflection on Anxiety

Brighton-based indie rock outfit Penelope Isles, led by sibling duo and co-songwriters and co-vocalists Lily and Jack Wolter, had a breakthrough 2019: their self-produced, full-length debut Until The Tide Creeps In was released to critical acclaimed globally. The band supported the album with some relentless touring that included sharing stages with The Flaming Lips and The Magic Numbers, as well as three Stateside tours. including a stop at the inaugural New Colossus Festival.

The duo’s highly-anticipated Jack Wolters-produced sophomore album Which Way To Happy is slated for a November 5, 2021 release through Bella Union. The album’s material was forged during a period of emotional and professional upheaval for The Wolters and for Penelope Isles. The band spent much of 2019 touring across Europe and America with their bandmates. When the pandemic struck early last year, the band — understandably — felt as though everything was falling apart: much like countless other folks across the world, the members of Penelope Isles found their plans and hopes in an indefinite stall. Along with that, Jack and Lily were dealing with their own respective heartaches and the departure of two bandmates. The departing bandmates were replaced with Henry Nicholson, Joe Taylor and Hannah Feenstra for the recording of the album. “A godsend after a low time,” Lily Wolters says. 

The Wolters along with Nicholson, Taylor and Feenstra holed up into a small cottage in Cornwall to start work on the new album when lockdowns were instituted everywhere. Claustrophobia kicked in, existential anxiety over the pandemic permeated everything and emotions — naturally — ran very high. “We were there for about two or three months, ultimately,” Penelope Isles’ Jack Wolter recalls. “It was a tiny cottage and we all went a bit bonkers, and we drank far too much, and it spiralled a bit out of control. There were a lot of emotional evenings and realisations, which I think reflects in the songs. Writing and recording new music was a huge part of the recovery process for all of us.”

Finished away from the confines of the Cornwall-based cottage and further flushed out with acclaimed composer Fiona Brice, the band’s sophomore album finds the band further emphasizing the core traits that have won them acclaim globally: the bond between Jack and Lily, a desire to celebrate life in all of its facets and a sensitivity towards complex feelings. But interestingly, Which Way To Happy may arguably be their most ambitious effort to date: Sometimes, the album’s material swoons, sometimes it soars. Other times it bravely says “it’s OK to not be OK.” And this is while seeing the band balance on a sonic and stylistic tight rope between expansive cosmic pop, and intimate, earnest songwriting.

In the lead up to the album’s release, I’ve written about three of Which Way To Happy‘s singles:

  • The cinematic “Sailing Still.” Centered around a shimmering and brooding string arrangement, gently strummed guitar, thunderous drumming, a soaring hook and Lily Wolter’s achingly tender vocals, the heartbreakingly gorgeous track evokes a deep yet familiar yearning for peace in a mad, mad, mad world — while sonically bearing a resemblance to Lily Wolter’s collaboration with Lost Horizons
  • Iced Gems” is a gently undulating track featuring twinkling keys, fluttering and atmospheric electronics, thumping beats and Lily Wolters’ achingly plaintive vocals. And while being a decided sonic departure, the song is centered around somme deeply intimate lyricism and the duo’s unerring knack for crafting infectious, razor sharp hooks. 
  • Sudoku” is a slow-burning and lushly textured bit of dream pop/shoegaze centered around shimmering guitars, plaintive and expressive vocals, a soaring hook and a fuzzy power chord driven solo.  

“Terrified,” the album’s fourth and latest single is a sun-dappled and hook-driven bit of jangle pop — but under the song’s upbeat, breezy vibes, the song is a reflection on maneuvering a mad, mad, mad world with anxiety — and pretending to the outside world that you’re not crumbling apart on the inside. “It’s about those days when you’re dying inside but have to pop out to the shop, bumping into someone, having to put on a magic show, pretending to appear that everything is OK. It’s a song that has such a happy-fun-summery exterior but lyrically is totally the opposite,” Penelope Isles’ Jack Wolters explains. “It’s one of self-doubt, displacement and finding something really terrifying to handle. Sometimes we hide a lot behind ourselves. ‘Terrified’ was an outlet for me to be able to tackle scary thoughts and worries in more of an abstract way. Things can seem impossible to talk about and articulate sometimes. I feel that making this album has enabled me and my sister Lily to open up a lot more and be honest with our songs as it just makes them so much more real.”

New Video: Lost Horizons Teams Up with KookieLou on a Slow-burning and Gorgeous Standalone Single and Visual

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 ThomasPenelope Isles‘ Jack Wolter, The Hempolics Nubiya Brandon, Tim SmithGemma Dunleavythe innocence mission’s Karen Peris, Horse Thief‘s Cameron Neal, Marissa NadlerPorridge Radio‘s Dana Margolin, John GrantBallet 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.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Penelope Isles Release a Gorgeous and Heartbreaking Visual for “Sudoku”

Led by sibling duo and co-songwriters and co-vocalists Lily and Jack Wolter, the Brighton-based indie rock act Penelope Isles had a breakthrough 2019: their self-produced, full-length debut Until The Tide Creeps In was released to critical acclaimed globally. And to support the album, the band shared stages with The Flaming Lips and The Magic Numbers, playing over 100 shows — and they made three Stateside tours, including a stop at the inaugural New Colossus Festival.

The duo’s highly-anticipated Jack Wolters-produced sophomore album Which Way To Happy is slated for a November 5, 2021 release through Bella Union. The album’s material was forged during a period of emotional and professional upheaval for The Wolters and for Penelope Isles. The band spent much of 2019 touring across Europe and America with their bandmates. When the pandemic struck early last year, the band — understandably — felt as though everything was falling apart: much like countless other folks across the world, the members of Penelope Isles found their plans in an indefinite halt. Jack and Lily were dealing with their own respective romantic heartaches and the departure of two bands members, who were replaced with Henry Nicholson, Joe Taylor and Hannah Feenstra for the recording of the album. “A godsend after a low time,” Lily Wolters says. 

The Wolters along with Nicholson, Taylor and Feenstra holed into a small cottage in Cornwall to start work on the new album when lockdowns were instituted everywhere. Claustrophobia kicked in, existential anxiety over the pandemic permeated everything and emotions — naturally — ran very high. “We were there for about two or three months, untilately,” says Jack. “It was a tiny cottage and we all went a bit bonkers, and we drank far too much, and it spiralled a bit out of control. There were a lot of emotional evenings and realisations, which I think reflects in the songs. Writing and recording new music was a huge part of the recovery process for all of us.”

Finished away from the confines of the Cornwall-based cottage and further flushed out with acclaimed composer Fiona Brice, the band’s sophomore album finds the band further emphasizing the core traits that have won them acclaim globally: the bond between Jack and Lily, a desire to celebrate life in all of its facets and a sensitivity towards complex feelings. But interestingly, Which Way To Happy may arguably be their most ambitious effort to date: Sometimes, the album’s material swoons, sometimes it soars. Other times it bravely says “it’s OK to not be OK.” And this is while balancing a tight rope between expansive, cosmic pop and up-close, heart-felt intimate songwriting. 

So far, I’ve written about two of Which Way To Happy‘s singles:

  • The cinematic “Sailing Still.” Centered around a shimmering and brooding string arrangement, gently strummed guitar, thunderous drumming, a soaring hook and Lily Wolter’s achingly tender vocals, the heartbreakingly gorgeous track evokes a deep yet familiar yearning for peace in a mad, mad, mad world — while sonically bearing a resemblance to Lily Wolter’s collaboration with Lost Horizons
  • Iced Gems” is a gently undulating track featuring twinkling keys, fluttering and atmospheric electronics, thumping beats and Lily Wolters’ achingly plaintive vocals. And while being a decided sonic departure, the song is centered around somme deeply intimate lyricism and the duo’s unerring knack for crafting infectious, razor sharp hooks.

Which Way To Happy‘s third and latest single “Sudoku” is a slow-burning and lushly textured bit of dream pop/shoegaze centered around shimmering guitars, plaintive and expressive vocals, a soaring hook and a fuzzy power chord driven solo. Sonically, the track — to my ears, at least — brings back memories of classic Brit Pop.

“‘Sudoku’ is probably the oldest song on the album. We used to play it in our old band, Your Gold Teeth, back on the Isle of Man when Lily and I first started making music,” Penelope Isles’ Jack Wolters explains. “Dad loves a sudoku puzzle whilst he’s sat on the loo. So this one is for him! It’s a special song for us and we wanted to bring it back and play it with Penelope Isles.”

The recently released video for “Sudoku” is an intimate portrait of a middle aged gentleman. We follow the man as he gets up, brushes he teeth, makes himself a healthy breakfast and some tea before heading to his workspace to work on a model airplane. He stops to each lunch with his pet bird, water his plants and get a package delivered — and then back to work. When he finishes, he takes the plane out on a test flight; but it quickly proves to be a frustrating disaster with the plane flying a few feet before crashing.

The video ends with the band throwing the plane in the garbage and heading home to work on a model car.

New Video: Penelope Isles Release a Hallucinogenic Visual for Fluttering and Intimate “Iced Gems”

Led by sibling duo and co-songwriters and co-vocalists Lily and Jack Wolter, the Brighton-based indie rock act Penelope Isles had a breakthrough 2019: their self-produced, full-length debut Until The Tide Creeps In was released to critical acclaimed globally. And to support the album, the band shared stages with The Flaming Lips and The Magic Numbers, playing over 100 shows — and they made three Stateside tours, including a stop at the inaugural New Colossus Festival.

The duo’s highly-anticipated Jack Wolfers-produced sophomore album Which Way To Happy is slated for a November 5, 2021 release through Bella Union. The album’s material was forged during a period of emotional and professional upheaval for The Wolters and for Penelope Isles. The band spent much of 2019 touring across Europe and America with their bandmates. When the pandemic struck early last year, the band — understandably — felt as though everything was falling apart: much like countless other folks across the world, the members of Penelope Isles found their plans in an indefinite halt. Jack and Lily were dealing with their own respective romantic heartaches and the departure of two bands members, who were replaced with Henry Nicholson, Joe Taylor and Hannah Feenstra for the recording of the album. “A godsend after a low time,” Lily Wolters says.

The Wolters along with Nicholson, Taylor and Feenstra holed into a small cottage in Cornwall to start work on the new album when lockdowns were instituted everywhere. Claustrophobia kicked in, existential anxiety over the pandemic permeated everything and emotions — naturally — ran very high. “We were there for about two or three months, untilately,” says Jack. “It was a tiny cottage and we all went a bit bonkers, and we drank far too much, and it spiralled a bit out of control. There were a lot of emotional evenings and realisations, which I think reflects in the songs. Writing and recording new music was a huge part of the recovery process for all of us.”

ex feelings. But interestingly, Which Way To Happy may arguably be the most ambitious effort to date: Sometimes, the album’s material swoons, sometimes it soars. Other times it bravely says “it’s OK to not be OK.” And this is while balancing a tight rope between expansive, cosmic pop and up-close, heart-felt intimate songwriting.

Last month, I wrote about Which Way To Happy’s cinematic first single “Sailing Still.” Centered around a shimmering and brooding string arrangement, gently strummed guitar, thunderous drumming, a soaring hook and Lily Wolter’s achingly tender vocals, the heartbreakingly gorgeous track evokes a deep yet familiar yearning for peace in a mad, mad, mad world — while sonically bearing a resemblance to Lily Wolter’s collaboration with Lost Horizons.

Which Way To Happy’s second and latest single “Iced Gems” is a gently undulating track featuring twinkling keys, fluttering and atmospheric electronics, thumping beats and Lily Wolters’ achingly plaintive vocals. Although the song is a decided sonic departure from its immediate predecessor and their previously released work, the song is centered around some deeply intimate lyricism and the duo’s unerring knack for crafting infectious, razor sharp hooks.

me graphics that follows the Wolters as they travel by raft, complete with a living room set up and by tricked out van with bouquets of flowers before ending up in a meadow where they jam out.

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Piroshka Releases a Delicate Meditation on Love

Deriving their name from the Hungarian version of Little Red Riding Hood, the acclaimed indie rock All-Star fact Piroshka — Lush’s Miki Berenyi (vocals, guitar) Moose’s KJ “Moose” McKillop (guitar), Modern English’s Mick Conroy (bass) and Elastica’s Justin Welch (drums) — features members, best known for their individual work with some of the most acclaimed and beloved indie acts of the past 30 years or so. The JOVM mainstay act can trace its origins to the completed web of connections between its acclaimed members: Individually, Piroshka’s Berenyi and McKillop are considered shoegazer pioneers with their own respective bands, releasing a number of critically applauded albums before they got married and started a family. With their critically appalled and commercially successful 1995 self-titled, full-length debut Elastica exploded into the international scene as Brit Pop megastars — and as admirers, Berenyi and McKillop were familiar with Welch and his work with the band. Conroy joined Moose after Modern English split up for the second time. Welch eventually joined the reunited Lush in 2015. And when Lush needed a bassist for their final show in Manchester, Conroy filled in.

Lush’s final Manchester show laid the foundations for Piroshka’s foundation — but I need to add some much-needed and complicated background: Life is complicated and knotty after all. After Lush’s Chris Acland committed suicide in 1997, his grieving bandmates felt it was impossible to continue as a band without him. The band split up. Berenyi was so heartbroken by Acland’s death that she quit music and spent the next 20 years as a working mother. Because of a variety of personal and professional obligations, Berenyi didn’t agree to a Lush reunion and to touring until 2015. Welch, who coincidentally was a close friend of Acland’s was a logical choice to lovingly fill in.

At some point during the lead up to Lush’s finally show together, Welch asked Berenyi if she’d be up to something new once things ended. As Berenyi recalled in press notes, up until that point in her life, she hadn’t made music outside of Lush and solo work never had much appeal to her. “I need someone else to motivate me, and in this case it was Justin. He sent drum tracks with guitar parts and odd words, so I wrote some vocals and lyrics, which became ‘This Must Be Bedlam’ and ‘Never Enough.’ When Mick added bass, it sounded great. When Moose added guitar and keyboards — I’d never written like that before, it was such good fun.” “We sounded great!” Welch added in press notes. “Like a proper punk band. Mick brings a huge amount of enthusiasm and livens up the room, and I thought this is the kind of band I want to be in again.” Conroy agreed, adding “I’d seen Lush so many times, it was like playing with old friends. Miki agreed and it was good fun, too. And with Moose available, we thought, ‘let’s all have a bash, see what happens.’”

Now, as I said before life is often complicated and knotty — and with Piroshka there are some additional layers of entangled personal, professional and creative connections that are at the heart of the band: Bella Union’s label head Simon Raymonde was among the first people to hear the Brickbat demos and he quickly signed the band to the label. Raymonde’s former Cocteau Twins bandmate Robin Guthrie produced Lush’s debut album. And Raymonde’s current Lost Horizons bandmate Richie Thomas was a former member of Moose.

Building upon the attention they received after the release of 2019’s full length debut Brickbat, the band just released their highly-anticipated sophomore album Love Drips and Gathers today. Deriving its title from a line of a Dylan Thomas poem, Piroshka’s sophomore album is a deeply introspective effort, that thematically focuses on the ties that bind us — in particular as lovers, parents, children and friends. Berenyi and McKillop split lyric writing duties, and as a result the album features songs about Berenyi’s and McKillop’s relationship and family, the deaths of McKillop’s mother and father, and the death of longtime friend and 4AD in-house art director Vaughan Oliver, who died suddenly at the end of 2019.

Sonically, Love Drips and Gathers finds the quartet employing more of an ethereal ound than its predecessor while still reveling in energy and drama. “If Brickbat was our Britpop album, then Love Drips And Gathers is shoegaze!” Piroshka’s Miki Berenyi says in press notes. “It wasn’t intentional; we just wanted a different focus. I’ve always seen debut albums as capturing a band’s first moments, when you really have momentum, and then the second album is the chance for a more thoughtful approach.” Mick Conroy adds “Brickbat was a classic first album; noisy and raucous. On Love Drips And Gathers, we’ve calmed down and explored sounds, and space.”

In the lead-up to the album’s release, I managed to write about two of the album’s singles:

“Scratching at the Lid,” a shimmering and ethereal pop anthem centered around Berenyi’s imitable vocals, twinkling keys, a rousingly anthemic hook and a forceful motorik groove. But underneath the big hooks and breakneck gallop, the song is a deeply conflicted meditation focusing on McKillop’s relationship with his father and one’s relationships with their parents. 
“V.O.,” a heartbreaking and brooding mediation on heartache and inconsolable loss. dedicated to their friend and longtime collaborator Vaughan Oliver. Centered around heavily arpeggiated synths, shimmering guitars, Berenyi’s wispy delivery, a propulsive rhythm section and soaring strings, “V.O.” is a fittingly a 4AD Records/Cocteau Twins-like track that focuses on the funeral of a loved one in an impressionistic fashion.

“Loveable,” Love Drips and Gathers’ third and latest single is a swooning love song centered around Berernyi’s plaintive vocals and a delicate arrangement featuring shimmering guitars, a sumptuous bass line and gently rolling percussion. The song focuses on something that in my 42 years I’ve learned is extremely rare: stumbling across, true, deeply fulfilling love with another person.

I thought it was finally time to write an out and out love song! It was written very simply – led by the vocals and then finding the chords to meander around the melody,” Piroshka’s Miki Berenyi says in press notes. “Justin’s percussion, Moose’s accent notes… there’s a lovely delicacy to the embellishments. I am getting very sentimental in my old age because when I first heard Mick’s bass (one of the last things to be added) my eyes started welling up.”

Continuing their ongoing collaboration with Conor Kinsey, the recently released video for “Loveable” features the central romanic couple of the “V.O.” video. We see the couple of on a beautiful sunny day, sharing the sort of intimacy and comfort held between those madly in love. And yet, there’s a sense that the visual is an achingly bittersweet flashback on the days and moments we can never get back.

New Video: Piroshka Releases a Brooding Meditation on Loss

ustin Welch (drums) — features members, best known for their work with some of the most acclaimed and beloved indie acts of the past 30 years. Their collaboration together can trace its origins to the knotted and complicated web connections between each of the band’s members: Individually Berenyi and McKillop are considered shoegaze pioneers with their own respective bands, releasing a number of applauded albums before getting married and starting a family. With 1995’s acclaimed self-titled debut, Elastica quickly became internationally recognized Brit Pop stars — and as a result Berenyi and McKillop were intimately familiar with Welch’s work. Conroy joined McKillop’s band Moose after Modern English broke up the second time. Welch eventually joined the reunited Lush in 2015. And when Lush needed a bassist for their final show in Manchester, Conroy filled in.

As it turned out, the rehearsals for the Manchester show are what laid the foundations for Pirsohka to happen — but I must add some much needed background: After Lush’s Chris Acland committed suicide in 1997, his grieving and devastated bandmates felt that it was impossible to continue as a band. The band split up. Berenyi was so heartbroken by Acland’s death that she quit music and spent the next 20 years as a working mother. Because of personal and professional obligations, Berenyi didn’t agree to a Lush reunion and touring until 2015. Welch, who coincidentally was a close friend of Acland was a logical choice to lovingly fill in. And as the story goes, at some point Welch asked Berenyi if she’d be up to doing something new after the final Lush show. As Berenyi recalled in press notes up until that point in eh life, she hadn’t made music outside of Lush and solo work never really appealed to her. “I need someone else to motivate me, and in this case it was Justin. He sent drum tracks with guitar parts and odd words, so I wrote some vocals and lyrics, which became ‘This Must Be Bedlam’ and ‘Never Enough.’ When Mick added bass, it sounded great. When Moose added guitar and keyboards — I’d never written like that before, it was such good fun.”

“We sounded great!” Welch added in press notes. “Like a proper punk band. Mick brings a huge amount of enthusiasm and livens up the room, and I thought this is the kind of band I want to be in again.” Conroy agreed, adding “I’d seen Lush so many times, it was like playing with old friends. Miki agreed and it was good fun, too. And with Moose available, we thought, ‘let’s all have a bash, see what happens.’”

There are several more layers of that entangled and complicated web of personal, professional and creative connections at the heart of Piroshka, of course: Bella Union’s label head Simon Raymonde was among the first people to hear the Brickbat demos and he quickly signed the band to the label. Raymonde’s former Cocteau Twins bandmate Robin Guthrie produced Lush’s debut album. And Raymonde’s current Lost Horizons bandmate Richie Thomas was a former member of Moose.

Brickbat managed to have a deeper symbolic meaning for the band: the title also hit upon the fact that the album was a marked departure from the individual members’ best known work. Written through the anxious prism of parenthood in a world gone made, the album lyrically and thematically touches upon the fear, loathing, envy and strife at the heart of our current — and ongoing — sociopolitical moment. 

The band’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Love Drips and Gathers derives its title from a line of a Dylan Thomas poem. Slated for a July 23, 2021 release through Bella Union, Love Drips and Gathers reportedly follows a more introspective line, with the album thematically focusing on the ties that bind us — in particular, as a lovers, parents, children, friends. Berenyi and McKillop split lyric writing duties, and the album features songs about Berenyi and McKillop’s relationship, their family, the deaths of McKillop’s mother and father and the death of longtime friend and 4AD in-house art director Vaughan Oliver, who died suddenly at the end of 2019. Sonically, the album finds the indie rock legends employing a much more ethereal sound while still reveling in energy and drama. “If Brickbat was our Britpop album, then Love Drips And Gathers is shoegaze!” Piroshka’s Miki Berenyi says in press notes. “It wasn’t intentional; we just wanted a different focus. I’ve always seen debut albums as capturing a band’s first moments, when you really have momentum, and then the second album is the chance for a more thoughtful approach.” The band’s Mick Conroy adds “Brickbat was a classic first album; noisy and raucous. On Love Drips And Gathers, we’ve calmed down and explored sounds, and space.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Scratching at the Lid,” a shimmering and ethereal pop anthem centered around Berenyi’s imitable vocals, twinkling keys, a rousingly anthemic hook and a forceful motorik groove. But underneath the big hooks and breakneck gallop, the song is a deeply conflicted meditation focusing on McKillop’s relationship with his father and one’s relationships with their parents. Love Drips and Gathers’ second and latest single, the brooding “V.O.” is dedicated to the band’s longtime friend and collaborator Vaughan Oliver. Centered around arpeggiated synths, shimmering guitars, Berenyi’s wisps of smoke-like delivery, a propulsive rhythm section and soaring strings, “V.O.” fittingly is a Cocteau Twins-like track full of heartache and unfathomable loss delivered in an impressionistic fashion.

put a vocal on it,” Piroshka’s Miki Berenyi explains in press notes. “The lyrics are snapshot snippets of Vaughan Oliver’s funeral in January 2020 – lines from the speeches, fleeting impressions of the day. I’m getting to the age where the people I grew up with are dying and I find funerals a comfort in the sadness, formal but emotional, a celebration of a life, a space for the living to reconnect.” 

The recently released video continues Piroshka’s ongoing collaboration with director Conor Kinsey. The video follows an ominous and shadowy being and its relationship with a woman. Throughout the video there’s love, sacrifice, dedication, heartbreaking loss and fear. “We wanted to put this ominous-being centre frame and allow the viewer to reflect on fear and loss whilst also embracing hope and futurity through its life experiences,” Conor Kinsey explains. “Giving the subject no recognisable features meant that it’s emotional journey through the different timelines felt more relatable to a wider audience.”

New Video: indie Rock All Star act Piroshka Follows An Adorable Little Girl on a Big Day Off in Visual for “Scratching at the Lid”

Deriving their name from the Hungarian version of Little Red Riding Hood, the acclaimed All-Star act Piroshka — Lush’s Miki Berenyi (vocals, guitar) Moose’s KJ “Moose” McKillop (guitar), Modern English’s Mick Conroy (bass) and Elastica’s Justin Welch (drums) — features members, best known for their work with some of the most acclaimed indie acts of the past 30 years. And their latest project together can trace its origins to the knotted web of connections between them: Berenyi and McKillop are considered shoegaze pioneers, who have released a number of applauded releases before getting married and starting a family. With the release of 1995’s self-titled debut, Elastica quickly became internationally recognized Brit Pop stars — and as a result. Berenyi and McKillop were intimately familiar with Welch and his work. Conroy joined McKillop’s band Moose after Modern English broke up for the second time. Welch eventually joined the reunited Lush in 2015. When Lush needed a bassist for their final show in Manchester, Conroy filled in.

As it turned out, the Manchester show rehearsals are what laid the foundations for Piroshka to exist — but admittedly, I need to add some background here: After Lush’s Chris Acland committed suicide in 1997, his grieving and devastated bandmates felt it was impossible to continue as a band. The band eventually broke up. Berenyi was so heartbroken by Acland’s death that she quit music and spent the next 20 years as a working mother. Because of personal and personal obligations, Berenyi didn’t agree to reunite Lush and tour again until 2015. Welch, who coincidentally was a close friend of Acland was a logical choice to lovingly fill in. At some point, Welch asked Berenyi if she’d be up to doing something new after the final Manchester show. And as Berenyi recalled in press noters, up until that point in her life, she hadn’t made music outside of Lush and solo work never really appealed to her. “I need someone else to motivate me, and in this case it was Justin. He sent drum tracks with guitar parts and odd words, so I wrote some vocals and lyrics, which became ‘This Must Be Bedlam’ and ‘Never Enough.’ When Mick added bass, it sounded great. When Moose added guitar and keyboards — I’d never written like that before, it was such good fun.”

“We sounded great!” Welch added in press notes. “Like a proper punk band. Mick brings a huge amount of enthusiasm and livens up the room, and I thought this is the kind of band I want to be in again.” Conroy agreed, adding “I’d seen Lush so many times, it was like playing with old friends. Miki agreed and it was good fun, too. And with Moose available, we thought, ‘let’s all have a bash, see what happens.’”

Of course, there are several more layers to the entangled and complicated web of personal, professional and creative connections at the heart of Piroshka: Bella Union’s label head Simon Raymonde was among the first people to hear the Brickbat demos and he quickly signed the band to the label. Plus, I should add that Raymonde’s former Cocteau Twins bandmate Robin Guthrie produced Lush’s debut album. And Raymonde’s current Lost Horizons bandmate Richie Thomas was a former member of Moose. In any case, Raymonde introduced Piroshka to Lanterns on the Lake‘s Paul Gregory, who mixed all but one track on the album. Lastly,  Fiona Brice, who was once a Bella Union recording artist, wrote string arrangements while The Higsons and Blockhead‘s Terry Edwards, who played on Lush’s final album played brass.

Deriving its name for a slang term for missile, the band’s 2019 full-length debut Brickbat managed to have a deeper symbolic meaning for the band: the title also hit upon the fact that the album was a marked departure from the individual members’ best known work. Written through the anxious prism of parenthood in a world gone made, the album lyrically and thematically touches upon the fear, loathing, envy and strife at the heart of our current — and ongoing — sociopolitical moment.

The band’s highly-anticipated sophomore album Love Drips and Gathers derives its title from a line of a Dylan Thomas poem. Slated for a July 23, 2021 release through Bella Union, Love Drips and Gathers reportedly follows a more introspective line, with the album thematically focusing on the ties that bind us — in particular, as a lovers, parents, children, friends. Berenyi and McKillop split lyric writing duties, and the album features songs about Berenyi and McKillop’s relationship, their family, the deaths of McKillop’s mother and father and the death of longtime friend and 4AD in-house art director Vaughan Oliver, who died suddenly at the end of 2019. Sonically, the album finds the indie rock legends employing a much more ethereal sound while still reveling in energy and drama. “If Brickbat was our Britpop album, then Love Drips And Gathers is shoegaze!” Piroshka’s Miki Berenyi says in press notes. “It wasn’t intentional; we just wanted a different focus. I’ve always seen debut albums as capturing a band’s first moments, when you really have momentum, and then the second album is the chance for a more thoughtful approach.” The band’s Mick Conroy adds “Brickbat was a classic first album; noisy and raucous. On Love Drips And Gathers, we’ve calmed down and explored sounds, and space.”

“Scratching at the Lid,” Love Drips and Gathers is a shimmering and ethereal pop anthem centered around Berenyi’s imitable vocals, twinkling keys, a rousingly anthemic hook and a motorik groove. But underneath the euphoria inducing hooks and breakneck gallop, the song is a conflicted meditation on McKillop’s father and one’s relationship to their parents that sonically sounds a bit like a synthesis of Brit Pop, indie rock and shoegaze.

Directed by Connor Kingsley at Home Picture Films, the recently released video for “Scratching at the Lid” follows a rambunctious and energetic little girl, who’s one of the best things a kid can heart — there’s no school today. Throughout her day, she does all the things that kids do: running around the house causing chaos; plays with her dog, puts on makeup and pretend she’s an adult singing star. And in this girl’s world, we rarely see an adult, which probably allows her to be even more of a kid. The main thing for me is that the girl is adorable — and in some way, a reminder of our own childhood and childhood dreams.

New Video: Lost Horizons and Kavi Kwai Release a Haunting and Nostalgic Visual for the Dan Carey Remix of “Every Beat That Passed”

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, (Spanish for “hopefully” or “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!” 

Since the release of Ojalá, the state of the world has gotten much worse — and much more dire. Our socioeconomic and political systems are slowly collapsing, exposing dangerous flaws. However, the fight for a fairer and better world continues as it has for generations; but one small portion of Thomas’ hopes have been fulfilled: Raymonde and Thomas wrote and recorded a new album’s worth of material together, their highly-anticipated sophomore album  In Quiet Moments.

Released earlier this year, and 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 praise “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. as a result, the material 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. 

Now, over the course of the past year, I’ve written about five of In Quiet Moments‘ released singles:

“Cordelia,” a lush track centered around atmospheric synths, gorgeous steel pedal guitar from David Rothon, elegant strings from Fiona Brice, and John Grant’s brooding vocals. The song is a meditation on the passing of time, the inevitable changing of the seasons — but with the tacit understanding and acceptance that all things in our world are transient. 
“One For Regret,” a dark and foreboding song centered around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive drumming and Porridge Radio’s Dana Margolin’s frantic vocals. While sonically, the song finds Raymonde and Thomas paying homage to the beloved sound and approach that won Raymonde accolades “One For Regret” is a meditation on the messiness of regret and loss, that acknowledges that regret and loss are a necessary part of life — and that the only way out is through. 
“Every Beat That Passed,” an old-timey waltz centered around shimmering and arpeggiated keys, jangling guitars and Kavi Kwai’s Julia Ringdahl ethereal vocals. Much like its immediate predecessor, In Quiet Moments‘ third single sonically seemed indebted to Raymonde’s while being defiantly upbeat. 
“In Quiet Moments,” a shimmering and slow-burning, old school soul meets shoegaze number featuring twinkling keys, jazzy drumming, gently buzzing guitars and Ural Thomas’ easygoing soul crooning. The end result is a gorgeous and thoughtful song that evokes a complex and confusing array of emotions with a simplicity and profound earnestness that most contemporary songwriters lack. 
“Heart of a Hummingbird,” a hazy and cinematic bit of shoegaze centered around stuttering syncopated drumming, layers of shimmering guitars, twinkling keys and Penelope Isles’ Lily Wolter (a.k.a. KookieLou)’s ethereal and mesmerizing vocals singing lyrics that get at the confusing feelings of love and heartache can inspire — in particular, longing, desperation, uncertainty, acceptance and even a little bit of denial within a turn of a phrase. 

Raymonde and Thomas recently enlisted Dan Carey to remix “Every Beat That Passed.” Retaining the jangling guitars and Ringdahl’s ethereal vocals, the Cary remix pairs those elements of the original with a brooding and uneasy production featuring arpeggiated synths and skittering beats. Interestingly, the remix is a dub-like and trippy take on the song that manages to emphasize the dreamy yet upbeat feel of the original.

“We are big fans of Dan Carey’s (who isn’t??) and when I was thinking of remixers, Dan, David Holmes and Adrian Sherwood were the first ones I wanted to approach as I felt their aesthetic would work best with some of these songs,” Lost Horizons’ Simone Raymonde says in press notes. “When Dan heard ‘Every Beat That Passed’, he mailed me back: ‘I’m obsessed with this song ! I really love it and I think I can do something really cool.’ He certainly did.”

Directed by Penelope Isles’ Jack Wolter, a.k.a. Wavyhead, the recently released video for the Dan Carey remix is full of feverish nostalgia as the video is split between footage of a decaying and abandoned amusement park and stock footage of smiling and happy folks at county fairs and amusement parks. In some way, the video is a bittersweet reminder of the things we’ve missed during the past year and some odd months of the COVID-19 pandemic. “For the accompanying film, listening to his version and Kavi’s words i had this vision in my head of dead souls riding a ferris wheel in an old decaying fairground and found some reels of this abandoned amusement park and for balance we mixed that in with some footage of happy smiling faces too from other funfairs,” Raymonde explains,. “Our main video collaborator again here is Jack from Penelope Isles.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Lost Horizons Team Up With KookieLou on a Pensive and Yearning Single and Visual

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, (Spanish for “hopefully” or “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!”

Since the release of Ojalá, the state of the world has gotten much worse — and much more dire. Our socioeconomic and political systems are slowly collapsing, exposing dangerous flaws. However, the fight for a fairer and better world continues as it has for generations; but one small portion of Thomas’ hopes have been fulfilled: Raymonde and Thomas wrote and recorded a new album’s worth of material together, their highly-anticipated 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 praise “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.

Now, over the course of the past year, I’ve written about four of In Quiet Moments’ released singles:

“Cordelia,” a lush track centered around atmospheric synths, gorgeous steel pedal guitar from David Rothon, elegant strings from Fiona Brice, and John Grant’s brooding vocals. The song is a meditation on the passing of time, the inevitable changing of the seasons — but with the tacit understanding and acceptance that all things in our world are transient.
“One For Regret,” a dark and foreboding song centered around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive drumming and Porridge Radio’s Dana Margolin’s frantic vocals. While sonically, the song finds Raymonde and Thomas paying homage to the beloved sound and approach that won Raymonde accolades “One For Regret” is a meditation on the messiness of regret and loss, that acknowledges that regret and loss are a necessary part of life — and that the only way out is through.
“Every Beat That Passed,” an old-timey waltz centered around shimmering and arpeggiated keys, jangling guitars and Kavi Kwai’s Julia Ringdahl ethereal vocals. Much like its immediate predecessor, In Quiet Moments‘ third single sonically seemed indebted to Raymonde’s while being defiantly upbeat.
“In Quiet Moments,” a shimmering and slow-burning, old school soul meets shoegaze number featuring twinkling keys, jazzy drumming, gently buzzing guitars and Ural Thomas’ easygoing soul crooning. The end result is a gorgeous and thoughtful song that evokes a complex and confusing array of emotions with a simplicity and profound earnestness that most contemporary songwriters lack.

In Quiet Moments’ fifth and latest single “Heart of a Hummingbird” is a hazy yet cinematic bit of shoegaze centered around stuttering syncopated drumming, layers of shimmering guitars, twinkling keys and Penelope Isles’ Lily Wolter (a.k.a. KookieLou)’s ethereal and mesmerizing vocals singing lyrics that get at the confusing feelings of love and heartache can inspire — in particular, longing, desperation, uncertainty, acceptance and even a little bit of denial within a turn of a phrase.

“In 2018 we toured the UK with Penelope Isles opening up for us every night, and it was one of the most brilliant times I’ve had on tour. It reminded me of the Cocteau Twins / Dif Juz tour of 1984,” Lost Horizons say of In Quiet Moments’ fifth and latest single. “The friendships spawned and the love and respect that our bands showed to each other throughout was really special. There were 7 of us in the Lost Horizons live band and every one of us watched Penelope Isles each night, usually in awe. They did the same with us (probably without the in awe part) and to have such a brilliant support pushes you each night, in the best possible way.

“I knew from watching Jack (who sings on the first track on the lp ‘Halcyon’) and Lily so closely for so long, that I couldn’t think of two better people to be on this Lost Horizons lp. They were the first people I asked. Lily is a brilliant songwriter and I knew she would be a perfect collaborator for us! She seemed to have her ideas done so quickly after I sent her the music, and Jack recorded her soon after in our studio in Brighton, and I clearly remember opening the email when they sent the track to me, I literally blasted it in my studio so loud about 25 times and was in tears hearing what she’d done. I am very excited by what I am hearing of her KookieLou solo project.

“After I had written and recorded the basic tune with all the keys, basses and Richie had added the live drums, Paul Gregory (Lanterns On The Lake) added the glorious spacey guitars that take the track to its crescendo.”

“It was a real honour to be asked to collaborate with these two legends,” Penelope Isles’ and KookieLou’s Lily Wolter adds. “I have a lot of love for both Simon and Richie. I wrote these words in a pretty testing time. Loving someone is a real trip isn’t it? The meanings of the lyrics twist and turn between uncertainty and really just not wanting to let go of someone. When those beautiful new chords come in just after halfway through the song, I felt a release. I think that’s where the words travel from a place of confusion and heartache, to a place of pure honesty, acceptance and love. I want to thank Simon and Richie for making that happen at that point, encouraging me to see the glass half full at a time where it felt pretty empty.”

Shot in a gorgeously cinematic black and white, the recently released video for “Heart of a Hummingbird” follows a pensive and lonely Wolters walking along a rocky and windy shore, singing the song. Her immediate surroundings add an even more pensive and lonely quality to the proceedings.

Now, as you may recall In Quiet Moments was slated for a two part release through Bella Union. The first part was released late last year with the second part due February 26, 2021, along with the physical release of the entire album.

New Video: Lost Horizons Teams Up with Ural Thomas on a Shimmering and Soulful Single

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 2017 release of their full-length debut together, Ojaiá, (Spanish for “hopefully” or “God willing”) to critical praise. “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!”

Since the release of Ojalá, the state of the world has gotten much worse. And while many of us had begun to feel hope that things may turn for the better with a Biden Administration, the events yesterday in Washington, DC has quickly brought that sense of hope and possibility crashing to the ground. Things are dire: our socioeconomic and political systems are collapsing, exposing both the worrisome gaps in our systems. The fight for a better and fairer world continues, as it always does but interestingly enough, one small portion of Thomas’ hopes have been immediately fulfilled: Raymonde and Thomas will be releasing a new album’s worth of together, 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 surrounding them and everyone else, as well as the same emotions and sensations of their own personal lives: 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 praise “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.

Last year, I wrote about three of the album’s previously released singles:

“Cordelia,” a lush track centered around atmospheric synths, gorgeous steel pedal guitar from David Rothon, elegant strings from Fiona Brice, and John Grant’s brooding vocals. The song is a meditation on the passing of time, the inevitable changing of the seasons — but with the tacit understanding and acceptance that all things in our world are transient.
“One For Regret,” a dark and foreboding song centered around shimmering, reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive drumming and Porridge Radio’s Dana Margolin’s frantic vocals. While sonically, the song finds Raymonde and Thomas paying homage to the beloved sound and approach that won Raymonde accolades “One For Regret” is a meditation on the messiness of regret and loss, that acknowledges that regret and loss are a necessary part of life — and that the only way out is through.
“Every Beat That Passed,” an old-timey waltz centered around shimmering and arpeggiated keys, jangling guitars and Kavi Kwai’s Julia Ringdahl ethereal vocals. Much like its immediate predecessor, In Quiet Moments’ third single sonically seemed indebted to Raymonde’s while being defiantly upbeat.

The album’s fourth and latest single, album title track “In Quiet Momtents” features Ural Thomas. Born in Louisiana in 1939, the seventh of 16 children, a young Thomas learned how to sing in church. His family relocated to Portland, where he would spend the bulk of his life.

In the 50s, Thomas became a professional singer, opening for the likes of Etta James, Otis Redding, James Brown, and Stevie Wonder at the Apollo Theater. But by 1968, Thomas had returned to Portland. In terms of music, Thomas fell off the map, and not much is really known until the early 2010s when Scott Magee, a Portland-based soul DJ, was informed by the owner of Mississippi Records that Thomas — whose early records he regularly spun at this DJ sets — still lived in the area.

As it turned out, Thomas had been hosting weekly jam sessions at his home since the 1970s but seldom performed live. But Thomas and Magee started Ural Thomas and the Pain, an octet that backs Thomas. The act has released two albums so far, 2016’s self-titled debut and 2018’s The Right Time. So now that we went through the necessary background, let’s talk about the track: “In Quiet Moments” is a shimmering and slow-burning bit of old-school inspired soul meets shoegaze centered around twinkling keys, jazzy drumming, gently buzzing guitars and Thomas’ easygoing and gorgeous vocals. It’s a gorgeous and thoughtful track that evokes a complex and confusing array of emotions with a simple yet profound earnestness.

“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!” Lost Horizons’ Simon Raymonde says in press notes. ” 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!”

“When I first heard the song, I thought it was such a wonderful thing, both open and calm, with that steady, insistent groove,” Ural Thomas adds. “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.”

The recently released and cinematically shot black and white visual for “In Quiet Moments” is split between footage of clouds passing the sun, stock footage of a slow pan of a forest, Thomas singing the song in the studio and other natural phenomena. It’s a fittingly gorgeous and thoughtful visual.

Now, as you may recall In Quiet Moments was slated for a two part release through Bella Union. The first part was released last month with the second part due February 26, 2021, along with the physical release of the entire album.