With Bella Union, one of the country’s most successful independent record labels to mastermind over the last 20 years, Simon Raymonde’s long absence from making music has been understandable.
Nonetheless it’s a joy to see him back on stage wielding a guitar and clearly enjoying himself with his new outfit, Lost Horizons.
Songs created in the studio by Raymonde and drummer Richie Thomas, long-time friends since their time in 4AD bands Cocteau Twins and Dif Juz, and a coterie of guest singers are here given greater vitality by a band featuring the alternating vocals of Beth Cannon, Ed Riman and Helen Ganya Brown (aka Dog In The Snow), Asya Fairchild on bass and Chris Anderson, of Bella Union band Departure Lounge, on keyboards.
A melancholy air pervades opener I Saw The Days Go By before Cannon lets loose her theatrical side in Give Your Heart Away and Asphyxia, which turns she turns into a powerful psychodrama, all gesticulation and vocal swoops and growls.
The mood softens with Ganya Brown’s gentler tones on Score The Sky then Riman steps out from behind his Mellotron to takes centre stage for three songs.
Reckless, shorn of Ghostpoet’s original sleepy rap, doesn’t quite work but Life Inside a Paradox, where’s he’s joined by Cannon and Ganya Brown is better – and uncharacteristically rocky.
But it’s Bones, the album’s opener, that here stands out, with Cannon again in powerful form.
An encore of the ballad She Led Me Away ends the evening on a haunting note, with the repeated refrain “Things never are what they seem”.
Raymonde has already hinted he’s planning a second Lost Horizons album. With this kind of momementum behind him it should be well worth the ride.