Experimental psych-merchants Landshapes are streaming new LP Heyoon in full on Best Fit ahead of its release on Bella Union next week. As well as that, the band have given us an in-depth Track By Track guide detailing tales of migratory lunar geese, the tragic tale of a Dutch artist trying to cross the Atlantic, and their own exploratory jams.
The album follows their 2013 debut Rambutan, and in our review, Jennifer Jonson said that "Heyoon is an impressive effort, broad in its scope and ambitious in its reach. Landshapes possess passion in excess, and this is made evident in the unbridled rhythmic ruptures and psychedelic pulses that define the record."
Check out the Track By Track guide, and then stream Heyoon in its entirety after.
Stay is a song of two dichotomous parts. With the first half, we pushed ourselves to make something that feels very direct and immediate, throwing ourselves straight into the chorus, keeping it short and concise, with an energy that is high, persistent and all-in. It’s bold and there’s a lyrical directness to match. The outro is relief from that, musically we allow ourselves to soar off into the ether, and the words are more reflective, free at last, and my eyes are wide. It’s about finally feeling free and open to new experiences after a break-up, albeit somewhat hardened, learn to be mean, in a mean world to be.
Because of the nature of how we write, the music often exists long before there are words, so for a while we’re just making patterns, moods, and noises. We often find ourselves enjoying conflicts of sound that can be explored and then resolved, and the middle section of Fire is a good example of that. It’s a part we consistently referred to as “Eno”, with its long dissonant drones, synth and bell noises that often don’t sound at all like the instruments we’re using.
Lyrically, it’s also a post break-up song, and about when you’re trying to assimilate a friendship, but conversations are so barbed and loaded - there are so many things you could touch on that would link to other things that would spark hurt and conflict, and so it becomes this ridiculous dance of negotiating neutral topics, where the things you’re allowed to talk about becomes narrow and superficial. So it’s the fire of conflict but also the memory of the fire of chemistry. There’s a good Lydia Davis story called Forbidden Subjects about the same thing.
Moongee is the concise version of a 20-minute jam from our time in Cornwall. We had wanted to get away from London and all it’s distractions to spend some focussed time writing our next record, and something about al that fresh air, sea, and woods and fire manifested in something much darker and much more menacing than anything we’d written so far – maybe that’s when it felt like we’d started the album. The guitar noise was an accidental discovery from Jemma as a weird feature on her guitar, it sounded totally demented and we wanted to use it! Heloise had wanted to make the simplest bassline she possibly could, which at two notes for most of the song is pretty good going.
The lyrics are written from the perspective of lunar migratory geese. There’s a story written by Francis Godwin, a 17th century Bishop, that describes the journey of a man being carried to the moon by a flock of lunar migratory geese, and then in recent years, artists Agnes Meyer Brandis has embarked on a project to see whether these moon geese still exists, and if so, whether they might have forgotten their annual migration to the moon, and are perhaps stranded. It’s total magical realism.
We tried on lots of different clothes for this song, and had more or less put it to bed when one day we just tried it really hard and fast and it made the most sense, a punk song that allows the energy to play through. By that point we had pretty much finished the record, and so we added on a day and recorded the whole thing live. One of the highlights ended up being the backing vocals at the end, which were an afterthought.
Ader refers to Bas Jan Ader, a Dutch-California based artist who’s most famous works are “I’m Too Sad to Tell You”, and “Searching for the Miraculous”; his final piece, in which is set sail from the US in a small sailboat, aiming to cross the Atlantic. His vessel was discovered several years later off the Irish Coast. The first two verses are from his perspective, and the last from that of his mother.
Francois is kind of a courage song exploring gender. The verses are channelling a coaxing voice, luring and giving confidence to someone to go out, go to a party and be themselves. The continual build towards the end of the song gradually leads to a feeling of crazy dancing, freedom, and chaos.
It’s a song that came apart and then together again in the studio. Sometimes it can be hard for that energy you have in a dingy practice room to translate to the slickness and unforgiving nature of a recording studio. We worked very closely with Giles Barrett and David Holmes at Soup, together pulling the songs apart structurally, trouble- shooting and experimenting with sounds until we’d made something that felt as good as it felt when we bashed it out initially.
A song that literally took 7 minutes to write – another afterthought to the album. Dan and Heloise were thinking about Serge Gainbourg in the tightness of drums and bass, and it’s all quite sparse and subby in feel with that spooky guitar part on top - it’s our R&B song and the super high vocals remind us of "Silly Games" by Janet Kay.
This song was initially something strummed out by Dan when we were in Cornwall, humming the melody that is now the chorus, with the rest of us joining in and adding harmonies. Red Kite is the name given to the song by Jemma, who in her guitar part, was thinking of the Red Kite that hovered overhead when she visited her grandmother’s house, and who she imagined to be her grandfather reincarnated. So that riff is playing out the competing ideas of grief and sorrow, but also the soaring emotions of death and rebirth. Lyrically it’s a song about still feeling deeply affected by a past relationship, but putting that neatly, and tenderly in a box so that you can move on, it’s confessional and then affirming.
With lots of this album, we were conscious of wanting to write songs that would make people dance, we wanted to be playing shows where we’d wanna move around and the audience would too. It’s the first song where we started singing stupid high, channelling Donna, and wanting to make discoesque melodies! The drums and bass slink along, and the intro evolved from a discussion about Shepard Tones – an audio illusion where a scale rises infinitely. Jemma’s guitar reminded us of a charging Rhino, whatever that means.
Definitely the most ridiculous song name we’ve held on to. The names are often just whatever amalgamation of words the person who recorded it on their phone decides to call it when sending it round to the rest of us, in this case Dan, being much more elaborate than our usual one-word habit. It’s a song that still has a bit of the randomness that happened when we first jammed it out, and lyrically it’s about that process. It’s a song about the moments when we’re playing together and it feels as if we’re playing a song we already knew somewhere in our subconscious, somehow everyone knows what to do and we’re all responding to each other so instinctively. At some point of course those moments have to be pulled apart, given structure and words and made into concise songs, but those initial moment when it’s new and hasn’t been manipulated into a shape we can make sense of, that is known, it’s kind of magical.
Is another song that still closely follows the meandering instincts of our first jams and we play it, it kind of feels like the song plays us instead. Desert reveals a lot of different colours and moods – very rarely does a person have one feeling linked to an emotion, and we are often in conflict with ourselves. It’s sad and pained and optimistic and cheerful.
At the end of Desert you can hear the first Solipsist Jam. We wanted to include loads of our old jams on the record but there simply wasn’t space. Dan had been experimenting with different African drumbeats, which didn’t make it into the final version but sounds great on that early version. The guitar hook is wild and weird sounding, the song slips into a lower register as the bass subs up, and finally we end with a noisy outro with a 90’s sounding riff, it’s a totally weird song. Lyrically it’s about art and being inspired, the final refrain about feeling changed by something, or at least affirmed and connected to some essential part of yourself, how it changed me, each word reframed, I’m the same in a new way. The Solipsist refers to wanting to participate in the world as someone else sees it, i.e. existing in someone else’s vision.
Heyoon is out 4 May on Bella Union. Check out their upcoming shows after the album stream below.
7 – XOYO, London UK (w/ Stealing Sheep)
15 – Bush Hall, London UK (w/ She Keeps Bees)
16 - The Great Escape 2015, Brighton UK
29 - Wychwood Festival, Cheltenham UK
6 - Nacht van Kunst & Wetenschap, Groningen NL
1 - Sommerloft Festival @ //:about blank, Berlin DE
2 - Sommermolotow @ Molotow Bar, Hamburg DE
23 - Green Man 2015, Brecon Beacons UK