Dreams Take Flight
The New Album
The band's forthcoming album Dreams Take Flight is being released on Tiny Global Productions on May 14th on vinyl and compact disc.

Dreams Take Flight transitions from political discourse into a post-virus rebirth of human relationship and the inevitable fumblings of the society's psychological reconstruction over the forthcoming year. Have you ever wondered what purpose your joy or my pain? All those moments shared together to be washed away by the rain... Have you ever doubted our super hipster being love-in at all? Just a pair of urbane fools passing through waiting for our call... Take a leap into the great unknown...

Almost perversely heart-on-sleeve, Johny Brown and compatriots have never fitted well within a particular scene - nor have they ever seem to try. While still featuring some of the band's strongest songs, Dreams Take Flight has a strange film-like ambience in parts, almost as if planned as a soundtrack, a thought mirrored in Inga Tillere's sublime, dream-like sleeve, best seen in real life. "A Leap Into The Great Unknown" and "Notes From A Gallery" will likely be heard as too disarmingly direct for radio, and the videos will likely never see the entry door to MTV, but Dreams Take Flight will ultimately be considered a masterwork of clarity in a confused, contentious time.

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Band Of Holy Joy - Dreams Take Flight
Band Of Holy Joy 2021, photograph by Bjorn Hatleskog

Classic Pop Magazine
"Have you ever doubted our super hipster being love-in?" asks Johny Brown on A Leap Into The Great Unknown. This intriguing approach to questioning the status quo is typical of BOHJ, who are an admittedly acquired taste but nonetheless neglected national treasures, yet the lack of a spotlight's done nothing to reduce their fecundity nor their grudging positivity. That Magic Thing brews up a storm, concluding hopefully "Love is a healing force", and chamber strings amid This Rhythm Of Life's desperate sadness will "restore your faith in humanity".
Prog Magazine

Band Of Holy Joy probably count as veterans now, but their 20-somethingth (counting cassette-only curveballs) album Dreams Take Flight (Tiny Global) sees their urban prog folk re-energised by pandemic paranoia. Heatedly political, intensely personal, it's an expansive set of epic songs, Johny Brown's voice cynical on This Is The Festival Scene but emotional on the Arcade Fire-like Rhythm Of Life.
Mojo Magazine
Having perfected their existential beat-soul, BOHJ's third wave uses it heady textures to cast a caustic gaze at modern life. Optimism ultimately wins out, trumpet-flushed standout That Magic Thing forcefully concluding: "Love is a healing force."
Narc. Magazine
When things take a turn for the dreadful, at least there's a whole new set of emotions for Johny Brown to articulate for us. Dreams Take Flight was recorded under lockdown and there's an extra level of anxiety to these songs, alongside Brown's eternal concerns - the wonder and furtility of love, the desperation and beauty in the prosaic, the power of art and music.
Musically, the album operates in familiar territory - a kind of lush, cinematic indie - but the arrangements seem a little more ambitious (Andy Diagram's trumpet and Sukie Smith's vocals stand out) and the band seem reinvigorated. Between the opening Ballardian horrors of This Is The Festival Scene and the reflective closer A New Clear Vision, there's a lot of magic here.
RnR Magazine
It's been well over thirty-five years since Johny Brown started his distinctive chronicling of our times. The ever-changing line-up of The Band Of Holy Joy - shifting focus from the distinctive accordion of Alfie Thomas in the late 80s to the glistening guitar of James Stephen Finn today - has maintained a constant sonic evolution to underline Brown's keen eye.
And so it is in 2021. Dreams Take Flight is a beauty. The sound is punctuated by brass embellishing a richly inventive rhythm section and guitar switches from Smiths influence to orchestral. Towering above is Brown's tapestry of reflections on the search for something better ('always yearning for the starts' in That Magic Thing) and the struggle to know ourselves ('to live is to choose but to choose well you must know who you are, what you stand for and where you want to go' in Notes From A Gallery).
It's accessible but always challenging too. There are moments of drama, beauty and conflict - much like life really. 'Change is a ritual state in me', Brown says in Notes From A Gallery. Long may it continue.
Deviation Street
I need to admit to being a bit late to the party as far as it goes with The Band Of Holy Joy. Certainly I’ve been aware of them as a recurring name amongst the innumerable listings of previous decades, and it seems a fault on my own part that ‘Dreams Take Flight’ is the first of their twenty or so albums that I’ve actually got around to hearing. Formed in south London at the beginning of the 80s, band mainstay Johny Brown has pursued his own particular musical directions regardless of consequences, or so it would appear. There again, ‘Dreams Take Flight’ is hardly the sound of desperation, artistic or of any other sort. What it is, is a confidently performed and smartly produced work whose songs, while they’re reminiscent of numerous indie stalwarts of repute, retain at their core the occasionally mordant although always expressive words and voice of Johny Brown, while the measured, even meticulous music that provides a backdrop to the vocal matches the lyrical verbosity note for note.
On what is their twenty third album, The Band Of Holy Joy reveal themselves as an impressively tight group of musicians while Johny Browns highly literate – and importantly, accessible – songwriting carries a mixture of dark humours, ideas and statements and also an emotive power, aspects of his words that can appear within a single song. The eight tracks on ‘Dreams Take Flight’ are an impressive reminder of the existence of one of the most underrated 80s bands still making music today, should you require it.
Notes From A Gallery
Live From Gallery 46
Band of Holy Joy presented Notes From A Gallery an online exhibition of short film, performance art, live radio and wall art created and transmitted live from Gallery 46 and broadcast on our YouTube channel and though our website.

The short films were commissioned especially for the band’s forthcoming album Dreams Take Flight, a set of 8 songs whose themes are concerned with walls and mask’s, constraints and freedoms, lost connections, brutal interventions, crowded isolation, clouded behaviour.

The songs themselves are shot through with personal ghosts and private acts, nagging doubts, fleeting moments of hope, illuminating the tricky art of living with love in these dark precarious times, always hoping to get by through whatever means, of magic music image light.

As a statement of intent we inhabited Gallery 46 for the duration of the exhibition and created visual and sound works whilst we were there, setting up a radio station, creating visual works, recording sounds, breaching isolation. This exhibition ran nightly from the 24th to 27th of February starting at 8pm. We showed two new video films a night with a performance that corresponds to or was inspired by that evening’s films.

ARTISTS & PERFORMERS: Alexandra Lort Philips / Yard Heads, Johnny Mugwump / The Neon Hospice, Inga Tillere, Gil De Ray / Cold Lips, Tam Dean Burn, Bjorn Hatleskog, Fliss Kitson, Jo Joelson, James Stephen Finn, Peter Smith, Sukie Smith, David Erdos, Kirsty Allison, Kevin Quigley, Johny Brown


THIS IS THE FESTIVAL SCENE – Alexandra Lort Phillips
Alexandra Lort Philips lives in Edinburgh where she is producing theatre and film, she is the cofounder of Yardheads along with fellow artistic director John Paul McGroaty.

Jonny Mugwump, formerly of the Exotic Pylon, oversees The Neon Hospice radio station, is digital editor at large for Repeater Books and comprises one half of Psychological Strategy Board

Inga Tillere is a Latvian born London based artist working with photography and film. Inga is responsible for all Band of Holy Joy visuals from sleeve to screen to stage.

Gil De Ray is a musician film maker and one half of the multi-media duo Cold Lips. Originally from Glasgow and now residing in Berlin Gil has toured across the world blending musical performance with video projections. He is currently working on a 50-minute, psychedelic road trip film ‘Pathway to the Stars’ with an accompanying soundtrack album.

ON SET ROMANCE – Tam Dean Burn
Tam Dean Burn is an actor across many platforms and theatremaker. He has been working extensively with the artist Bill Drummond. He also sings in the Burnsian band The Bum-Clocks and plays baritone horn in the Glasgow community brass band Brass Aye. Tam is a committed activist focussing this year on COP26 in Glasgow in November.

NOTES FROM A GALLERY – Bjorn Hatesklog
Bjorn Hatleskog is a Scots Norwegian experimental musician and sound artist based in London. His work explores the nature of feedback loops and, noise and interference. He is a joint curator of the Liminality performance art exhibitions an integral member of Tuatha and runs the record label adaadat

Fliss Kitson is the drummer and co-ordinator of The Nightingales. She is an illustrator who graduated from Norwich Art School and has continued to express herself with illustration ever since. After seeing the videos Fliss made for The Nightingales, Band of Holy Joy asked her to contribute to this present collection.

Jo Joelson is a London based artist, researcher, writer and educator. She has a background as a practicing lighting designer with a pioneering, experimental and interdisciplinary approach. She is the author of the wonderful book Library of Light.

During the setup and throughout the exhibition, the band were documenting all that goes on in Gallery 46 right here.
Polaroid Dreams with Kirsty Allison, Peter Smith, James Stephen Finn and Johny Brown

Polaroid 600 film photographs taken by Inga Tillere during the first evening’s performances at Gallery 46.

[read full entry..]
Polaroid Dreams with Bjorn Hatleskog and Sukie Smith

Polaroid 600 photographs taken by Inga Tillere during the second evening of our residency at Gallery 46. Featuring Bjorn Hatleskog and Sukie Smith.  

[read full entry..]
Polaroid Dreams with David Erdos, Sean McLusky and Miles Tuddenham

Polaroid 600 photographs taken by Inga Tillere during the second and third evenings of our residency at Gallery 46. Featuring David Erdos, Sean McLusky and Miles Tuddenham, as well as Peter Smith, James Stephen Finn and Johny Brown.

[read full entry..]
The Devil Has A Hold On The Land
Youth Remix
Formed from the ashes of an unrecorded '77 punk band, Speed, Band Of Holy Joy's initial musical forays were largely in the domain of industrial bricolage and occasional bursts of madness.

By the time they began releasing records under their own name in the 1980s, the band's humanist tendencies came to the fore, with astounding portraits of people on the periphery, resulting in such classics as Rosemary Smith, Mad Dot and Don't Stick Knives In Babbies Heads.

The sharp sensibilities of founder and leader Johny Brown eventually led to a star-making deal with Rough Trade, a few near hits and career momentum shattered when the label collapsed mere days after what might have been the band's breakthrough album.

Slowly, a new Band Of Holy Joy has blossomed. The band operates, well, differently. In some aspects, they're an art collective. Inspired by the possibilities which burst forth after punk, the band's expression takes many forms. Visual artist Inga Tillere plays a large role in shaping the band's aesthetic and live events, and in musical foil James Stephen Finn, Daryl Holley, Brenno Balbino and Peter Smith. Johny's poetic vision transcends expectations without resorting to desperate reaches into esoterica.

The Band Of Holy Joy model of today is a sleek beat outfit that owes as much to indie music in the proper sense of indie as it does to the Brechtian connotations of past Band Of Holy Joy incarnations. They have lineage but never dwell on it preferring to forge forward. They have a history too but never let it drag them back. For the past few years they have been quietly growing and gestating and now they have emerged fully reborn with renewed purpose of sound and vision.

Johny Brown [vocals] | James Stephen Finn [guitar] | Peter Smith [keyboards] | Daryl Holley [drums] | Brenno Balbino [bass] | Inga Tillere [visuals]

2021. Dreams Take Flight [vinyl/CD] released on Tiny Global Productions. (purchase..)
2019. Neon Primitives [vinyl/CD] released on Tiny Global Productions. (purchase..)
2017. Funambulist We Love You [vinyl/CD] released on Tiny Global Productions. (purchase..)
2017. The Clouds That Break The Sky [CD compilation] released on Tiny Global Productions. (purchase..)
2016. Favourite Fairytales For Juvenile Delinquents [vinyl box compilation] released on Vinyl-on-demand.
2015. The Land Of Holy Joy [CD] released on Stereogram Recordings.
2014. Easy Listening [CD] released on Exotic Pylon.
2013. City Of Tales: Volume 1 & 2 [cassette] released on Exotic Pylon.
2012. The North Is Another Land [CD] released on Moloko Plus.
2011. How To Kill A Butterfly [CD] released on Exotic Pylon.
2010. Paramour [CD] released on Radio Joy.
2008. Punklore [CD]
2007. Leaves That Fall In Spring... [CD compilation] released on Cherry Red.
2002. Love Never Fails [CD] released on Rough Trade.
1992. Tracksuit Vendetta [vinyl/CD] released on Ecuador.
1990. Positively Spooked [vinyl/CD/cassette] released on Rough Trade.
1989. Manic, Magic, Majestic [vinyl/CD/cassette] released on Rough Trade.
1988. The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea [cassette] released on Cause For Concern.
1987. More Tales From The City [vinyl/cassette] released on Flim Flam Productions.
1987. When Stars Come Out To Play [vinyl] released on ByeBye Baby.
1986. The Big Ship Sails [vinyl] released on Flim Flam Productions.
1984. More Favourite Fairytales [cassette] released on Pleasantly Surprised.
1983. Favourite Fairytales For Juvenile Delinquents [cassette]

Extended Plays
2017. Brutalism Begins At Homes [vinyl] released on Tiny Global Productions. (purchase..)
2012. Wyrd Beautiful Thyme [vinyl] released on Exotic Pylon. (purchase..)
2009. A Lucky Thief In A Careless World [CD] released on Radio Joy.

Bad Punk
Resonance 104.4fm
Every Friday night at 10PM on Resonance FM. Processed sounds, esoteric tunes and random text. Occasional derives into radio drama and other mediums brought to a few discerning listeners by Band Of Holy Joy.

Tune in on DAB and FM within central London, or online worldwide.


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Band Of Holy Joy. Photograph by Bjorn Hatleskog, 2021.