On new album PLUTO, Maja Lena journeys from the pastoral to the cosmic. Her increasing fascination with science fiction and the icy, electronic soundscapes of 1980s Japanese cinema and video game music, particularly that ofJoe Hisaishi of Studio Ghibli have been key touchstones on her new material. Whereas the landscapes in The Keeper were inspired by mountains and valleys she’d seen in real life, this one is set in an alternate world close to Pluto and she likes the idea of some parts sounding like creatures from another world in conversation with each other.
The repetitive motions of walking, seed planting, sweeping can be really beneficial to writing music - for Maja Lena - working on a no dig permaculture vegetable growing project and a natural horsemanship yard give her plenty of time for the imagination to run wild. Immersion in the natural world has always influenced her creativity; it was a dominant force in her earlier writing with alt-folk outfits Low Chimes and Hot Feet as well as her debut solo album The Keeper, from last year.
A shared link between all these projects is her musical consort, producer and drummer Rob Pemberton (The Staves, Rachael Dadd), with whom she shares a creative synchronicity through years of working together and a joint local habitat. Last year’s debut demonstrated the duo’s effectiveness, receiving Album of the Daystatus on BBC Radio 6 Musicas well as an 8/10review in Loud and Quiet who praised the “rather wonderful and unexpectedly strange collection of pastoral folk songs full of idiosyncratic flourishes, brooding atmosphere and gorgeously warm, dusky arrangements”.