Bella Union 20 Years

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  • Lost Horizons
  • BC Camplight
  • Hilang Child
Liverpool Music Week @ Leaf 30/10/17

Tonight Liverpool Music Week’s eclectic mix sees a celebration of 20 years of record label Bella Union. Founded by Cocteau Twins members Robin Guthrie and Simon Raymonde, the label has consistently promoted artists who excel in self-revelatory songwriting of the most honest kind. Raymonde now runs the label himself and, after a 20-year hiatus spent promoting the work of others, he has been back in the studio alongside former Dif Juz drummer Richie Thomas: the subsequent album, Ojalá, under the name LOST HORIZONS, sees the pair joined by a plethora of guest vocalists.

One such is HILANG CHILD (Ed Riman) who opens the evening’s proceedings in an encouragingly busy Leaf, atmospherically lit as ever. The early crowd are treated to a strong performance: Riman possesses a rich, soulful voice that puts me in mind of Jamie Woon, the strong melodies underscored by swathes of orchestrated synth and drum machine backing.

BC CAMPLIGHT’s inter-song repartee is sprinkled with the kind of self-deprecating humour that runs through his material – “I’m wearing the scarf because I’m ill, I’m wearing the shades ‘cause I’m an asshole,” could easily be a line from one of his songs. It’s a relatively short set, five songs in all, which showcases his rich, soulful voice, melodic strength and varied subject material. The confessional Should’ve Gone To School is passionately delivered and followed by a song about his dog which appropriately features a whistling passage. He throws in a jazzy, bluesy version of Hank Williams’ Your Cheatin’ Heart before saying, “Sorry to end on such a downer,” and ending with a delightfully melancholy song: lovey, delicate passages interspersed with soaring power chords.

Lost Horizons take to the stage as a seven-piece band for a performance of the new album, and immediately Helen Ganya-Brown launches into a lovely, fragile vocal over a tingling wash of sound, as I Saw The Days Go By gets us off to the anticipated ethereal, floaty start. The second song, Give Your Heart Away, however, demonstrates a much more powerful, full-on sound, powered by Thomas’ tribal drumming and Asya Fairchild’s dubby, slinky bass, and featuring Beth Cannon on vocals. Her performance throughout features an emotional intensity and tremendous range – bordering on the operatic – all fuelled by an inter-song routine of eyes-closed breathing exercises and snake-like hand gestures.

 

"Lost Horizons’ sound is, at times a wall of sound, at others, a veil of sugar coated crystal so fragile you could shatter it with a whisper"

The onstage multi-tasking is mesmerising, with Chris Anderson, Riman and Ganya-Brown all sharing guitar and keyboard duties at various times, and Riman bringing a blue-eyed soul vibe to a number of songs. Raymonde lurks in the shadows, occasionally smiling, and adding quietly gorgeous guitar lines. On Amber Sky Cannon and Ganya-Brown’s voices intertwine beautifully and the song encapsulates the overall feel of Lost Horizons’ sound: at times a wall of sound, at others, a veil of sugar coated crystal so fragile you could shatter it with a whisper. But a whisper is not to be heard amongst the transfixed audience.

There has been no interaction with the crowd from the moment they walked on stage, save for a shared laughter as Score The Sky collapses to a messy end. By this time they are easily forgiven, and before the final song Raymonde steps from the shadows to announce that we in the audience are all guinea pigs, stating that “we literally don’t know what we’re doing up here”. Right on cue there follows a spluttering opening to The Engine, which re-ignites with a Link Wray ‘Rumble’ of a guitar riff before building to a shimmering crescendo.

If the overall performance has something of the feel of a dress rehearsal, it is a dress rehearsal by an A-list cast, a talented ensemble who, after a couple of weeks on tour, will have settled into a very well-oiled groove.

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