Coinciding with Bella Union's 20th year, label-runner Simon Raymonde, formerly of Cocteau Twins, presents the debut of his collaboration with drummer Richie Thomas, a former member of bands including Dif Juz and the Jesus and Mary Chain.
Calling themselves Lost Horizons, they feature nearly as many guest vocalists as tracks on the 15-song release, titled Ojalá (Spanish for "hopefully").
With Raymonde having already demonstrated his good ear with his label, the duo handpicked a compelling group of nuanced voices for the album, including ex-Midlake frontman Tim Smith, Lanterns on the Lake's Hazel Wilde, and Marissa Nadler.
Contrary to seeming disjointed or belonging to the category of various-artists collections, Lost Horizons put forward a set of relentlessly poignant and pensive songs via a mix of haunting balladry and restrained, headphone dance-rock.
In this vein, "Life Inside a Paradox" is one of the album's livelier entries, with full drum kit, syncopated electric guitar, and a brisk vocal delivery by Cameron Neal of Horse Thief, with Sharon Van Etten on backing vocals.
Still, they're in the company of sustained shimmer and repeated, ruminative lyrics about wasted effort and the passage of time.
Also quietly grooving, "Reckless" features the tuneful rapping of Ghostpoet.
With much of the album born of improvisation, with the voice tracks added last, the final song, "Stampede," only implies tempo and form.
Intermittent trumpet solos alternate with Wilde, who seems to ask the trumpeter questions, like "Is this your soliloquy or just another drunken speech?," before the song and record end on an unresolved chord.
Elegant from the first minute to its 70th, Ojalá is an essential album for fans of Raymonde-affiliated projects like Snowbird and This Mortal Coil, and is among his and the year-in-indie's most exquisite works.