Limited LP : Exclusive Mint Green Colour Vinyl *Please Note The Vinyl Format Will Be Released On 11th December 2020*
CD : Standard CD *Released 20th November 2020*
The salient themes of our times resonate with a haunting, predictive and vital power on the third album from London four-piece Landshapes. Released through Bella Union, ‘Contact’ is an album that digs deep into the past, looks ahead to the future and burns with vivid life in the present, where its mind-expanding soundscapes, beguiling melodies and resonating emotions exude a tremendous in-the-moment vibrancy.
The title speaks clearly to the album’s themes, as intended. As Luisa Gerstein (vocals, synths) explains, “The working title for a long time was ‘Collapse’, but when we came around to naming it, and having the conversation from our respective isolation, we wanted to give it a name that was more hopeful, and about connectivity. Dan suggested ‘Contact’ and it clicked - contact with each other; contact with the wider world amidst its unravelling; music feels like a really essential part of that right now.”
‘Contact’ took form after extensive touring for Landshapes’ second album, ‘Heyoon’, where the band’s shape-shifting hybrids of alt-folk, psychedelia, math-rock and more brimmed with brooding beauty. The desire to sustain the focused fluidity and elemental power of their live energy - honed from Green Man to End of the Road and beyond - compelled them to continue playing and writing together, with strict principles to light the way. As Heloise Tunstall-Behrens (bass, vocals) puts it, “We approached this album with the idea of creating more space, simplifying and allowing things to breathe. We also wanted to keep the songs briefer, with fewer deviations.”
Throughout, Landshapes equip their elemental intimations and exploratory themes with a palpable immediacy. ‘Siberia’ is a psychedelic folk song of ice and fire, its forceful chants set to deliciously lopsided rhythms; direct and mysterious. Testifying to the band’s road-tested chemistry, loose grooves are executed with a limber precision. ‘Drama’ sets its snapshot of, says Luisa, “the imbalance of emotional labour that can happen between men and women” to an alt-R&B funk drift. With Jemma Freeman (guitar, vocals) and Dan Blackett (drums) swapping instrumental roles, ‘The Ring’ is mantric, romantic pop with a troubled heart, its seeming simplicity deceptive. “I suppose it was a love song at first,” says Heloise, “inspired by some friends getting married. For me, it evolved into a feeling of connection with the world and non-human species - a partnership upon which we tend to rely and take for granted but don’t appreciate all the time.”
After the voyages of self-discovery on their 2013 debut, ‘Rambutan’, and the wide-open reach of ‘Heyoon’, ‘Contact’ pays testimony to Landshapes’ questing spirit. Recorded live at Soup Studios when it was in Limehouse, the album’s freshness reflects a strict resistance to, says Luisa, “over-cooking in the studio.” New tools helped flesh out the soundscapes, Jemma notes: “actual synths,” a Boss Dr Rhythm drum machine and fresh guitar pedals enrich the sonic palette without gratuitous studio interference. Meanwhile, storied sound wizard and producer Kwes became, says Heloise, “sort of a fifth member,” helping to take the songs “to a new realm.”
As Jemma says, “We had a strong idea of wanting to keep a raw feel to the work, and that we wanted external ears to play a guiding influence and add a new voice once we had built the foundations. The sense of previous preciousness was something we could dispose of, as we had more confidence in our ability to play and write. I think it made us bold.”
LP pressed on 180g mint green vinyl with digital download code.
“Genuinely impressive... The London band’s first release in five years captures the kinetic energy of their live shows and wrings it out for all it’s worth as they boldly explore multiple genres, resulting in this collage of beautiful ideas.” - Loud & Quiet (9/10)
- The Ring
- Real Love is Dead
- I'm Mortal
- Let Me Be
- Just A Plug