“Everyone has another side to themselves which is expressed in different ways,” says Helen Ganya Brown, aka Dog In The Snow. “I think I’m quite shy in real life, which contrasts with my songwriting.” Brown’s album debut for Bella Union is Vanishing Lands, an imposing, haunting and luminous collection of songs in the darker spaces between dream - pop, art - rock and electronica, lifted by euphoric melodies, ravishing vocals and absorbing lyrics. The album was initially created at Brown’s home in Brighton before co - producer Rob Flynn helped her add shifting, impressionistic swathes of colour, from the ominous chords that open ‘Light’ to the vocal eddies that close ‘Dark’.
Brown wrote eight of the ten songs in a three - week spell after a period of “strange dreams”. She recalls: “Dreams in black and white. I found myself in a dreamland and discovered it was being destroyed. I chose Vanishing Lands as an album title because it sounded suitably desolate, and lent the songs a feeling of cohesion.” The themes of the two oldest tracks suit the ‘ruined world’ scenario. ‘Icaria’ is named after a utopian society established in the 1840s by a French socialist which only survived for 50 years. ‘Gold’ refers to America’s gold rush bonanza of the same era, when people searched for a better life, but instead created and faced catastrophe. In the same vein as Brown’s 2017 debut album Consume Me, the lyrics to Vanishing Lands repeat certain words (such as ‘obscura’, ‘gold’ and ‘empire’), which also provides cohesion.
In this age of streaming and playlists, “Perhaps someone will listen to the album from start to finish.” Born to a Thai mother and Scottish father, Brown was raised in Singapore from the age of five to eighteen, when she returned to the UK, making her home in Brighton. Learning guitar and subsequently Garageband software to construct broader sounds and styles of songwriting, she absorbed influences such as Sufjan Stevens, Scott Walker, David Lynch, Clint Mansell and Brian Eno: brooding, immersive, filmic universes through which Brown could escape her shy nature. But she has since stepped out, both as a commanding solo per former and one of the singers and musicians in the touring version of Lost Horizons, the collective co - founded by Simon Raymonde, Bella Union’s label boss (who first fell for Dog in The Snow when Brown sent tracks to his show on Amazing Radio).