Posts Tagged ‘Bella Union Records’

Having earned a mercury music nom for their stunning lp earlier in the year, Lanterns on the Lake are back already with a 5-track ep of dream-pop bliss. if you’re new to them & yet to hear what all the fuss is about, this’ll be the perfect snapshot of a band whose understanding of engrossing melodies & captivating atmospheres is second to none.

The ep includes four brand new tracks as well as a new reworked stripped-back arrangement of the single “Baddies”. of the track and ep vocalist Hazel Wilde says: “the realist is a song about being a dreamer, clinging to a vision and following your heart – even when that path can seem deluded to others. it was one of the songs that didn’t make it onto the album spook the herd as it didn’t fit sonically or narratively. it felt like it came from another place. so we began putting together this ep. we wanted to sculpt an intimate “Headphones” record. one for the introverts and dreamers, the ones that still find beauty and magic in things. recording some of the songs over lockdown in our homes helped in creating that world.”

Taken from The Realist EP out 11th December 2020 on Bella Union Records.

Emmy The Great shares Chang-E

With her new album “April /月音” due for release 9th October via Bella Union Records, and having recently been featured in The ObserverEmmy The Great today shares a beguiling part-animated video for her new single “Chang-E”. Of the track Emmy says: “It begins with this. Chang-E, the wife of the tyrant Hou Yi, drinks the elixir of immortality to save China from his eternal reign. She ascends to the moon, and lives there with the Jade Rabbit, its original inhabitant. In Mid-Autumn, we celebrate Chang-E’s sacrifice with a festival of lanterns and lights. Many centuries later, NASA tells the moon-bound Apollo 11 astronauts to look out for the Chinese queen and her rabbit. Michael Collins replies, ‘We’ll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl.’”

Of the video Emmy adds: “I wanted to tell the story of the moon goddess as I heard it as a child. It’s a lesser known version of the famous legend (which forms the centrepiece of Mid-Autumn celebrations), and all the more evocative because Chang-E’s destiny is decided by an act of defiance. I had worked with animator Renee Zhan on her film O Black Hole, and I knew she would understand the story and its roots. The creative team also included Mona Chalabi (storyboard), Armiliah Aripin (editing), and Jesse Romain (production). In the fragmented lives we’re living in at the moment, the ideas came together remotely from around the world. This is reflected in the footage between the animation, which is from my personal archive, and a performance of Chang-E on Hong Kong’s RTHK, that I performed while 5 months pregnant.”

“Combining Canto pop with warm neo-folk, her songs are beautifully constructed, the arch quirkiness of her early albums replaced by the lush writing of songs such as Chang-E or Okinawa.” MOJO

“An album filled with soft, tender indie-folk… ‘Mary’ skips along via a country-tinged shuffle, adding to the ever-present feeling of gliding through a city.” Uncut

 

“If you have a vacancy for another favourite new band on your listening device, Pom Poko would like to apply for the role,” tweeted Tim Burgess last April, as Norway’s finest punk-pop anti-conformists revisited their joyous debut album, “Birthday”, for one of Tim’s mood-lifting twitter listening parties.

Pom Poko pimp their cv on all fronts with their glorious second album, “Cheater”, is due for release via Bella Union in November. between the quartet’s sweet melodies, galvanic punky ructions and wild-at-art-rock eruptions, Cheater is the sound of a band celebrating the binding extremes that make them so uniquely qualified to thrill: and, like Tim’s listening party, to fulfil any need you might have for a pick-you-up. as singer Ragnhild Fangel explains of the leap from “Birthday” to “Cheater”, “I think it’s very accurate to say that we wanted to embrace our extremes a bit more. in the production process I think we aimed more for some sort of contrast between the meticulously written and arranged songs and a more chaotic execution and recording, but also let ourselves explore the less frantic parts of the Pom Poko universe.

I think both in the more extreme and painful way, and in the sweet and lovely way, this album is kind of amplified.” both sonically and thematically, that sense of amplification asserts itself right off the bat with the tearaway title-track. bursting into life on the back of a blast of fractious guitar noise, a thrashing riff and a sweetly sardonic vocal, “Cheater” laces its serotonin rush with tangy lyrics about dreams and, says Ragnhild, the kind of “cheating kid who doesn’t understand why they didn’t get things exactly like they wanted on their first try”: thematic motifs that reverberate throughout the album. from here, Pom Poko court their extremes with firecracker confidence. its lilting melody laced with a critique of gender stereotypes and set to a breeders-style lurch, “like a lady” is sharp and catchy. “Andrew” upholds a facility for simplicity in one of Pom Poko’s loveliest choruses, though a band such as this will never settle for the obvious: Martin Miguel tonne’s jazzy guitars seem to do everything except what you expect them to.

Further evidence arrives in the contrast between the thrilling, think-on-its-feet thrash-pop of “My Candidacy” – made in less than three hours – and the mellifluous “Danger Baby”, a tale of irrational fears with Ragnhild’s vocal and Martin’s guitar merged in unexpected union. That love for surprise synchronicities, slanted sounds and unexpected subject matter propels “Andy Go To School”, where a tempo-tweaked guitar line accompanies a lyric extolling the pleasures of water parks and a free-flowing sonic palette. “Towards the end one of the guitar pedals made a huge bzzz sound in a pause, but we thought it was cool and raw so we just rolled with it,” says Ragnhild. “We like to mix the feeling of a surgically produced piece of music with the random sounds that also happen when you are a band playing together.” after its opening, almost Bolan-esque belches of guitar, “Look” extends that spirit of openness to an invitation to look outside of one’s self, before “Body Level” ends the album on a characteristically generous, unguarded – amplified – note of positivity. “Things Get Better,” sings Fangel, embracing directness with the same readiness as Pom Poko exult in giddy intricacy. The sound of four distinct personalities driving in divergent directions towards one destination, the result is an evolved snapshot of the bracingly contrary chemistry forged when Fangel, Tonne, Jonas Krøvel (bass) and Ola Djupvik (drums) united to play punk during a jazz gig at a literature festival in Trondheim (the band-members studied jazz there.) taking their name and spirit from japanese animation visionaries studio Ghibli’s marvellously out-there film about raccoon-dog rebels with unfeasibly large testicles, Pom Poko showcased that convulsive individuality to exuberant effect on 2019’s Birthday. along the way, they drew praise from NME, interview magazine, DIY, Popmatters, the Line of Best Fit, the Independent and BBC radio 6, where Miranda Sawyer was moved to note that Birthday’s “Crazy Energy Night” seems to contain about 20 songs in one.

Meanwhile, a huge touring schedule included countless sold-out headline shows and a rapturously received uk jaunt with Ezra Furman. Written in the same run that produced interim releases “Leg Day” (with its playful dance-based video) and “Praise”, and recorded/produced in cooperation with Marcus Forsgren (jaga jazzist, broen, arc iris), Cheater does its predecessor proud on every front. bursting with colour and wonky life from its cover art (by close collaborator Erlend Peder Kvam) outwards, it differs from Birthday primarily in that its songs did not have a chance to be road-tested before going into the studio. but you wouldn’t know it. as Ragnhild explains, “that meant we had to practice the songs in a more serious way, but it also meant the songs had more potential to change when we recorded them since we didn’t have such a clear image of what each song should/could be as the last time.” in other words, consider that vacancy for free-thinking punk-pop adventurism in your life filled.

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I hope that you all are safe right now, and have found some moments of joy in amongst all the upheaval and worry and sorrow of the last three months. My lockdown has been up and down, with moments of despair, moments of gratitude, and lots of tiny gifts in the form of love and humanity. I cannot wait until we are all through it and can be together in one room again!

I’m also really sorry I didn’t write at the beginning of the pandemic. I felt a twinge of deep deep shame when a friend told me she’d been even been contacted by a former drug dealer with a ‘supporting our customers during this difficult time’ message. In my defence, I’d like to blame my baby! I hope you know that this community has provided a lot of solace for me, and I composed about 20 newsletters in my head while tending to my small human.

But here we are, somewhere in the middle, and I have some news. My fourth album, will be released on Bella Union on October 9th, and the first single comes out today. It’s called “Dandelions/Liminal”, and it was written in New York the summer after the 2016 election, after I’d dabbled with some Buddhist philosophy on a music residency in China. It’s a happy song about co-existing with sorrow in the summer, and that’s pretty much still where I am right now.

The rest of the album was mostly written in Hong Kong in late 2017, during a precious, peaceful time that began with the Mid-Autumn moon. That story will gradually be revealed as the songs and videos and texts come out, but we all know already that a lot has changed in Hong Kong since that time. I am immensely proud to have written this album for that city, and to know a piece of my heart is there. Now I get to share a piece of my heart with you.

I should stop before I paraphrase any more 90’s lyrics, but here is the single and album pre-order. Be in touch and let me know your news.

Emmy the Great new song “Dandelions/Liminal” released on Bella Union 2020-07-07 Emma-Lee Moss

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The sounds of Himalayan winds, sacred mantras and water rippling in the holy river Ganges, invite us to “Peradam”, the transcendent new album by Soundwalk Collective with Patti Smith. The album, which features guests including Anoushka ShankarTenzin Choegal and Charlotte Gainsbourg, will be released 4th September via Bella Union Records.

Peradam takes as its entry point René Daumal’s early 1940s novel Mount Analogue: a Novel of Symbolically Authentic Non-Euclidean Adventures in Mountain Climbing, in which the French writer, critic and poet mapped a metaphysical journey to “the ultimate symbolic mountain” in search of meaning. In it, Daumal introduced the idea of the “peradam”, a rare, crystalline stone – harbouring profound truths – that is only visible to seekers on a true spiritual path. The band have shared a hypnotic video to the title track, directed by Stephan Crasneanscki and with editing and visual collage by Jenn Ruff.

Peradam arrives as “the final stone”, says Soundwalk Collective’s Stephan Crasneanscki, in The Perfect Vision, a triptych of albums that evoke and explore the sainted spaces of thought and creativity opened by the three French writers and poets. After albums devoted to Antonin Artaud (The Peyote Dance) and Arthur Rimbaud (Mummer Love), Peradam expands on “the living space”, says Smith, that Daumal left for future seekers to enter and create out of.

Daumal’s spiritual quests ranged wide and deep. Part-influenced by Rimbaud, he also identified with the Pataphysicians, followers of the avant-garde absurdist Alfred Jarry. Daumal experimented with hallucinogens to the detriment of his health, though he would later transfer his passions to the purity of work as he nurtured a fascination with Hindu philosophies and taught himself Sanskrit; Peradam features some of his translations.

While Daumal embraced the idea of self-abnegation as the key to internal awakening, he was also drawn to the syntheses of Eastern/Western thought in Greek-Armenian philosopher GI Gurdjieff’s teachings. Daumal’s greatest works include the novels A Night of Serious Drinking and Mount Analogue, which – though unfinished at the time of his death from TB at 36 in 1944 – inspired psychedelic magus Alejandro Jodorowsky’s 1973 film The Holy Mountain as well as the creative journeys undertaken by Soundwalk Collective and Patti Smith.

Peradam will be released 4th September via Bella Union

Psychic Markers

Psychic​ ​Markers​ ​–​ ​consisting​ ​of​ ​Alannah​ ​Ashworth,​ ​Lewis​ ​Baker,​ ​Steven Dove,​ ​Leon​ ​Dufficy​ ​and​ ​Luke​ ​Jarvis​ ​-​ ​are​​ ​a​ ​hodgepodge​ ​bunch​ ​made​ ​up​ ​of members​ ​of​ ​various​ ​other​ ​bands​ ​and​ ​with​ ​a​ ​geographical​ ​backdrop​ ​that stretches​ ​countries​ ​as​ ​well​ ​as​ ​counties.​ ​So​ ​it​ ​makes​ ​sense​ ​that​ ​their​ ​music would​ ​be​ ​eclectically​ ​emblematic​ ​of​ ​such​ ​sprawling​ ​backgrounds.

Their sophomore album Hardly​ ​Strangers​ ​-​ ​much​ ​like​ ​the​ ​band​ ​themselves​ ​-​ ​is​ ​an assorted​ ​affair.​ ​50’s-tinged​ ​doo-wop​ ​nestles​ ​up​ ​alongside​ ​lush cinema-influenced​ soundscapes;​ ​whilst​ ​flashes​ ​of​ ​neo-psychedelia​ ​take​ ​pop hooks​ ​and​ ​stretch​ ​them​ ​out​ ​into​ ​hypnotic​ ​and​ ​elongated​ ​jams​ ​befitting​ ​of 1970’s​ ​Germany​ ​before​ ​pushing​ ​them​ ​into​ ​further​ ​cosmic​ ​realms.

Psychic​ ​Markers​ ​are​ ​not​ ​a​ ​genre​ ​band​ ​but​ ​instead​ ​one​ ​that​ ​is​ ​driven​ ​by​ ​a collective​ ​psyche,​ ​where​ ​the​ ​rule​ ​of​ ​friendship​ ​and​ ​instinctive​ ​democracy trumps​​ ​any​ ​forced​ ​idea​ ​of​ ​aesthetic.​ ​“It’s​ ​more​ ​of​ ​an​ ​unwritten​ ​understanding between​​ ​ourselves,”​ ​Dove​ ​says,​ ​expanding​ ​on​ ​the​ ​song writing​ ​process.​ ​“If something​​ ​doesn’t​ ​feel​ ​right​ ​for​ ​the​ ​band,​ ​we​ ​lose​ ​it.”​ ​Dufficy,​ ​the​ ​primary songwriter​ ​along​ ​with​ ​Dove,​ ​echoes​ ​this,​ ​hitting​ ​home​ ​the​​ ​intuitive​ ​nature​ ​of the​ ​group.​ ​“I​ ​think​ ​we’re​ ​more​ ​of​ ​gang​ ​now,​ ​our​ ​inner​ ​psychic​​ ​link​ ​has increased.​ ​We​ ​can​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​see​ ​which​ ​road​ ​one​ ​of​ ​us​ ​is​ ​heading​ ​down​ ​and sort​ ​of​ ​meet​ ​them​ ​there.”​ ​Jarvis​ ​(bass)​ ​further​ ​emphases​ ​this​ ​too. “I’ve​ ​never​ ​really​ ​considered​ ​this​ ​to​ ​be​ ​a​ ​band​ ​in​ ​a​ ​typical​ ​sense,​ ​i.e.​ ​a​ ​group with​​ ​preconceived​ ​notions​ ​of​ ​how​ ​we​ ​should​ ​exist​ ​or​ ​project,​ ​but​ ​more​ ​like​ ​five kindred​ ​spirits,​ ​cosmic​ ​cowboys​ ​-​ ​and​ ​girl.​ ​The​ ​music​ ​and everything​ ​that​ ​surrounds​ ​it​ ​seems​ ​to​ ​come​ ​quite​ ​naturally​ ​as​ ​a​ ​result​ ​so​ ​it​ ​just becomes​ ​about​ ​pals​ ​making​ ​music,​ ​being​ ​creative​ ​and​ ​enjoying​​ ​ourselves while​ ​doing​ ​so.”

And​ ​that​ ​road​ ​that​ ​a​ ​group​ ​of​ ​cosmonauts ​ ​have​ ​embarked​ ​on​ ​has​ ​led them​ ​to​ ​this​​ ​juncture:​ ​a​ ​second​ ​album​ ​that​ ​owes​ ​as​ ​much​ ​to​ ​Joe​ ​Meek​ ​as​ ​it does​ ​Conny​ ​Plank​​ ​or​ ​to​ ​David​ ​Lynch​ ​as​ ​it​ ​does​ ​Mark​ ​Rothko​ ​or​ ​Steve​ ​Reich; an​ ​album​​ ​overflowing​ ​with​ ​ideas​ ​and​ ​ambition​ ​or,​ ​as​ ​the​ ​band​ ​say,​ ​something that​ ​is​​ ​“cohesive​ ​yet​ ​diverse.”

Yet​ ​despite​ ​the​ ​collectiveness​ ​of​ ​this​ ​record​ ​and​ ​it’s​ ​a​ ​mutual​ ​expression​ ​of​ ​a desire​ ​to​ ​simply​ ​make​ ​radiating​ ​cosmic​ ​pop​ ​music,​ ​it​ ​still​ ​retains​ ​a​ ​sense​ ​of individual​ ​personality​ ​that​ ​comes​ ​through​ ​Dove’s​ ​lyrics​ ​that​ ​waver​ ​between the​​ ​personal​ ​and​ ​the​ ​metaphorical.​ ​The​ ​sweeping,​ ​sliding​ ​and​ ​euphoric​ ​‘Fields of​​ ​Abstraction’​ ​for​ ​example,​ ​being​ ​about​ ​Dove’s​ ​personal​ ​relationship​ ​to​ ​his own​​ ​brain.​ ​“It’s​ ​about​ ​memory​ ​and​ ​how​ ​sometimes​ ​it​ ​can​ ​let​ ​us​ ​down​ ​or​ ​distort the​​ ​view​ ​of​ ​something​ ​you​ ​once​ ​saw​ ​so​ ​clearly.​ ​I​ ​find​ ​both​ ​great​ ​joy​ ​and sadness​ ​in​​ ​focussing​ ​on​ ​old​ ​memories,​ ​I’m​ ​a​ ​very​ ​nostalgic​ ​person​ ​and​ ​a fading​ ​memory​ ​is​ ​a​ ​bereavement​ ​we​ ​all​ ​have​ ​to​ ​deal​ ​with.”

It’s​ ​this​ ​realisation​ ​and​ ​lyrical​ ​expression​ ​that​ ​is​ ​arguably​ ​a​ ​blueprint​ ​for​ ​this album​ ​and​ ​a​ ​representation​ ​of​ ​the​ ​band​ ​as​ ​a​ ​whole:​ ​a​ ​group​ ​in​ ​love​ ​with​ ​the sounds​ ​and​ ​accomplishments​ ​of​ ​the​ ​past​ ​but​ ​not​ ​being​ ​so​ ​unimaginative​ ​as​ ​to trust​ ​and​ ​rely​ ​on​ ​those​ ​memories​ ​and​ ​thoughts​ ​of​ ​past​ ​glories​ ​and​ ​so​ ​instead have​ ​created​ ​a​ ​sonic​ ​hybrid​ ​that​​ ​touches​ ​upon​ ​history’s​ ​great​ ​musical achievements​ ​whilst​ ​looking​ ​firmly​ ​to​​ ​future​ ​ones.

The new single from the self titled Psychic Markers album out 29th May 2020 via Bella Union.

Modern Nature share ‘Harvest’

Having last month announced their new 7-track mini-album “Annual”, To be released 5th June via Bella Union, and shared a video for lead track ‘Flourish’, today Modern Nature now share a video for new single “Harvest” which features Kayla Cohen of Itasca on lead vocals. Of the track bandleader Jack Cooper says: “Harvest represents Autumn on the record and centres around rituals and superstitions. A lot of the words and ideas that became the bones of the song were written the days after a vivid experience in Lewes for Bonfire Night.” Of the video he adds: “Lockdown Britain forced us (my wife Tsouni and I) into making our directorial debut and this is the outcome. A moving snapshot of the year through the medium of everyday objects. The record moves from winter through the seasons and back to winter… We end up back where we began… It’s familiar, many of the objects are the same but everything has morphed.”

Released in August 2019, Modern Nature’s debut album – How to Live crossed the urban and rural into each other. Plaintive cello strains melted into motorik beats. Pastoral field recordings drifted through looping guitar figures. Rising melodies shone with reflective saxophone accents, placing the record somewhere between the subtle mediations of Talk Talk, the stirring folk of Anne Briggs and the atmospheric waves of Harmonia.

The album was met with universal acclaim and featured in a number of publication’s ‘Best Of 2019’ lists. As the group took the album out on the road, Modern Nature became something even more expansive. “It feels like there’s scope and room to grow. I want the group to feel fluid and that whoever’s playing with us can express themselves and interpret what they think this music is” says Jack Cooper.

Their new mini-album Annual, recorded in December 2019 at Gizzard Studio in London, is another step towards something more liberated and a world away from the  sound of Jack Cooper’s previous bands. Will Young sits this one out, concentrating on his work with Beak, but How To Live collaborator Jeff Tobias takes a more central role, alongside percussionist Jim Wallis.

Mountain Man

Eight years since the release of their debut, the acclaimed trio Mountain Man return with a cover The trio Amelia Meath, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, and Molly Sarlé have been doing a series of covers, and their latest is this beautiful, harmony-laden take on Kacey Musgrave’s “Slow Burn.” “We are all huge fans of Kacey Musgraves,” the trio says. “‘Slow Burn’ embodies the magic of the unfolding of life, the power of being present and patient and knowing that sometimes things just take time. Like following a thread—it requires attention and curiosity.”

Mountain Man – “Sings Kacey Musgraves”, Bella Union Records Released on: 2020-05-05

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When piano playing songwriter BC Camplight (AKA Brian Christinzio) drops a new record, the world takes notice. Blending indie rock with lo fi pop sensibilities, his cult following has swollen to breakthrough into the mainstream and both fans and critics alike have been eagerly awaiting the release of his new album ‘Shortly After Takeoff’.

Hopes were raised high with previous LPs ‘How To Die In The North’ and ‘Deportation Blues’, and fortunately the third and final part of what Christinzio is calling his Manchester Trilogy, All three albums were created after the native Philadelphian had moved to Manchester England. Like Deportation Blues, Shortly After Takeoff spans singer-songwriter classicism, gnarly synth-pop and ‘50s rock’n’roll, with Christinzio’s similarly distinctive, flexible vocal carrying a fearless approach to lyrical introspection, but the new album is a major leap forward in songwriting sophistication and lyrical communication.

It certainly does not disappoint. Continuing his aliens account of a Philadelphian’s experience of living in the north west, his idiosyncratic outlook is matched by an equally unique genre defying sound that blurs the lines between synth-pop, folk, country and space rock.

Seamlessly sophisticated, it’s a clever record loaded with witty insights and packed full of ideas without ever becoming too demanding of your attention to prove a point or explore a genre. See BC Camplight when he tours ‘Shortly After Takeoff’ from September onwards.

Taken from the album ‘Shortly After Takeoff’ by BC Camplight, released 24th April 2020 via Bella Union Records.

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UK group Mr Ben & The Bens will release new album “Life Drawing” on July 12th via Bella Union Records. Bandleader Ben Hall says of new this widescreen folk-rock track (which might appeal to fans of Beirut or Pete & The Pirates) it reminded me of the Kinks or the Leisure Society, “‘Watering Can’ is a gently-swaying brassy ode to small town life. I took up gardening recently as our band obtained an allotment and I loved the image of a watering can becoming a metaphor for good intentions. Lyrically the track deals with the themes of lost love, claustrophobia and aspirational dreams that somehow never seem to be realised. The song is the finale of the new album and I wanted it to be that very specific combination of uplifting melancholy.”

‘Life Drawing” will be for Mr Ben & The Bens the occasion for a real change of scale, We will study with all the more interest the rest of the journey of this engaging project, which seems poised to succeed in an unexpected and promising synthesis between the indie classicism of Belle & Sebastian, the eccentricity of the Welsh school (Cate Le Bon, Euros Childs)

‘As woodwind, brass, and twilight-hued acoustic guitars shuffle along, its apparent that Mr Ben & The Bens have a knack for making anything and everything sound delightful… even wistful swathes of melancholy.’

The track is now available online.