Bella Union founder Simon Raymonde and musician Richie Thomas are pleased to announce a headline Belfast show with their new collaboration, Lost Horizons at The Limelight 2 on Wednesday 25th April 2018. Their stunning debut album, Ojalá, released in October last year, is a rare sighting of two gifted musicians who, for different reasons, have been largely absent from music-making for the last 20 years. Yet the record is proof of a telepathic relationship through music, established when the pair first became collaborators and friends in the eighties.
Ojalá also incorporates a heady cast of guest singers. Some are signed to Bella Union, such as Marissa Nadler, former Midlake frontman Tim Smith, Cameron Neal (Horse Thief), others are long-time favourites of Raymonde’s (Leila Moss of The Duke Spirit and Ghostpoet), or newer discoveries (Beth Cannon, Ed Riman, Gemma Donleavy and Phil McDonnell). And then there is the incomparable Karen Peris of The Innocence Mission, one of Raymonde’s all-time favourites, in her first collaboration outside of The Innocent Mission and solo recordings.
Together, the Lost Horizons ensemble has created an hour of exquisite, expansive and diverse spellcasting, from facets of soul (‘Bones’, featuring Cannon, and ‘Reckless’, featuring Ghostpoet) to dreamier invocations like ‘She Led Me Away’ (featuring Smith) and Ojalá’s lengthiest trip, ‘The Engine’ (featuring Riman). There’s the odd louder, faster detour, like ‘Life Inside A Paradox’ (featuring Neal, with Sharon Van Etten on backing vocals, and the first Lost Horizons track to emerge, on a split 7” single with Mercury Rev, for Record Store Day 2016), but the dominant mood is a deep, rich melancholia. “It’s just something I’m drawn to,” says Raymonde. “But he was equally drawn to working with Thomas.
Before he started Bella Union, Raymonde was the bassist of the revered Cocteau Twins, where the vein of melancholia went very deep. Even before the band had signed to 4AD, the label was releasing records by the instrumental quartet Dif Juz, arguably the first word in post-rock, 15 years before it became a trend: Thomas was their anchor the engine room of their wondrous free-flow. The two bands became friends and toured together.
“Dif Juz is still one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen, and I adore Richie’s drumming,” says Raymonde. “He plays in a really unusual style, with his hands around the wrong way… He’s got a dub-reggae style, but with a jazz feel. He makes the whole drum kit come alive.”
Raymonde and Thomas had made demos together in the eighties but filed them away – though they did collaborate on ‘Ivy And Neet’, found on This Mortal Coil’s second album Filigree & Shadow (1986), with Thomas adding a spiralling saxophone to Raymonde’s improvised piano. But both found their journeys diverging. Long after Dif Juz split, Thomas had toured with The Jesus And Mary Chain, Moose, Felt and, in the nineties, Cocteau Twins. But as he recalls, “The business side of music became too painful. I had too much love for music that wasn’t returned. But Simon has music in his heart and soul, he’s extremely talented, and I wanted to get him making music again. And when the idea of jamming together came up again, I got really excited, which I hadn’t felt about music in ages.”
If Lost Horizons was Thomas’ first recording in 20 years, it was only Raymonde’s second in the same time frame. When Cocteau Twins split in 1997, Raymonde found himself running a record label, and not making music until he joined forces with singer Stephanie Dosen under the name Snowbird, releasing one album, moon, in 2013. “I’d found it so hard to get my own music going,” he admits. “Part of my problem was, what was the point of working with another singer after [Cocteaus’} Elizabeth Fraser? It was foolish to think that, but understand that I’d compare everyone to her.”
Wednesday 25th April 2018
The Limelight 2, Belfast
Tickets £15 + Booking Fee