“The missing link between ‘Von’-era Sigur Ros and the more experimental leanings of Explosions In The Sky.” - Drowned in Sound
“A brilliant melange of catchy vocal lines and droning, grunge fuzz a la F-ck Buttons. A thing of beauty.” - The Line of Best Fit (track premiere for ‘Factory’ single)
Flights of Helios are a space rock/drone-folk band based in Oxford, UK. Following a run of single releases including ‘Succubus’ and ‘Factory’, they released their debut album ‘Endings’ in February 2018.
Flights of Helios blend timeless folk themes with their own ruminations on the natural and supernatural worlds, and using innovative vocal processing and expansive post rock arrangements create a musical landscape truly their own. Musically they’re inspired by both future-channeling artists (e.g. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Pink Floyd, Joy Division) and those weaving traditional music into new forms (The Unthanks, Sheila Chandra, Fairport Convention). Spiritually they’re still processing festival nights of young adulthood spent floating at the end of their airlines; the unifying thread in the Flights of Helios sound is the search for a return to those liberated, head-spinning times.
Four self-released singles plus a committed live presence have resulted in festival bookings for BBC Introducing at Glastonbury, Wilderness and Truck, and airplay on BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio 2, Amazing Radio and Radio X. In addition the band has soundtracked landmark 1920s animated film ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’ under commission from University of Oxford, has contributed to modern folk compilation ‘The Food Of Love Project’ alongside Stornoway and Alasdair Roberts, and performed with Mercury-nominated folk artist Sam Lee.
Flights of Helios are delighted to have released their debut album ‘Endings’ on 19th February 2018. Recorded over three years with veteran engineer Richard Neuberg, ‘Endings’ captures the pindrop-to-apocalypse dynamics of the group while showcasing their songwriting craft. In January 2018 The Line of Best Fit selected ‘Cartographer’ from the album as Song Of The Day writing, “The sonic experimentation that has become their trademark compliments the original [by sonic inspirations Bleeding Heart Narrative] beautifully”. 'Endings' opens with the band's epic take on Irish ballad 'Donal Og' and is available on Spotify, Apple Music etc here: https://smarturl.it/5u3l36.
With further recordings near completion Flights of Helios are embarking on a bold itinerary that will present new music and other creations to their fans throughout 2018.
Personnel: Chris Beard (vocals/bass guitar), Phil Hanaway-Oakley (vocals/bass guitar/ukulele), Harriet Butler (keyboards), James Currie (drums), James Maund (guitars), Sian Lloyd-Pratchett (violin).
Based in Oxford UK, Flights of Helios formed in 2011 born from loose-knit drone improv project Braindead Collective. The original Flights of Helios line up - Chris Beard, James Currie, Phil Oakley, James Maund, Sebastian Reynolds - were five friends who had already seen a lot together, both on and offstage (including Seb and Phil working with punk legend Viv Albertine of The Slits). This opened up a creative dialogue where results were startlingly quick, and debut album ‘Endings’ released February 2018 is the result of this rich vein of shared history.
Attention rocketed from 2012 to 2014 with singles ‘Star’, ‘Factory’ and ‘Succubus’ receiving positive press in Drowned in Sound, Line of Best Fit, Artrocker and others. The band built a following playing grassroots venues in London and Oxford as well as utilising some of Oxford’s magnificent churches. Mercury-nominated folk star Sam Lee joined the band on a few dates to perform the traditional ‘The Bitter Withy’. In 2013 Flights of Helios were commissioned by University of Oxford to compose an 80 minute score for the oldest surviving animated feature film ‘The Adventures of Prince Achmed’(1926) which was subsequently performed at three of the city’s museums. This surge of activity led to Oxford’s BBC Introducing team putting Flights of Helios forward to play at 2014’s Glastonbury Festival. A panel of BBC Radio DJs including Huw Stephens gave the green-light for the band to join fellow Oxfordians Glass Animals on the BBC Introducing Stage.
2015 saw the band continuing to work on material for their debut album with Richard Neuberg at Strawhouse Studios, while recording demos at SAE Institute Oxford for new songs including ‘Magpie’, ‘Parallel’ and ‘Tree & Fly’. 16th century popular song ‘I Loathe That I Did Love’ was reworked by the band for modern folk compilation ‘The Food of Love Project' marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. The album featured Stornoway, Alasdair Roberts, Dead Rat Orchestra, David Thomas Broughton and others reviving Shakespeare-related folk songs, and a subsequent tour of churches concluded at Shakespeare's resting place in Stratford. The band also continued to provide remixes for Oxford artists including one for Maaiians which received airplay from Nemone on BBC 6 Music.
In 2016, following two births and a bereavement for the band, keyboard player and founding member Sebastian Reynolds left to pursue other projects. New members gradually filled this space; ace guitarist Andrew Warne had stood in before, then Sian Lloyd-Pratchett (violin) and Harriet Butler (keyboards) joined for a live version of ‘A Sailor’s Life’ at a nautical night in the Ashmolean Museum. All three agreed to stay and the band put the expanded sound to work on fresh compositions (‘Beast’, ‘Pylons of Love’) as well as their back catalogue.
The new line-up was cemented through 2016/2017 with a residency at Oxford’s Cellar nightclub, local festival appearances and a spectral boat party on the misty Thames. Debut album ‘Endings’ released February 2018 has received very positive press and new recording sessions with ‘Endings’ engineer Richard Neuberg and Jimmy Hetherington (of local heroes Suitable Case For Treatment) have also started to bear fruit. Flights of Helios are keen to keep fans engaged with a string of releases and live shows in 2018.