Breathless (band)

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Tenor Vossa And TV Records photo.jpg
Tenor Vossa photo by Ari Neufeld
Background information
OriginLondon, England
GenresPost-punk, dream pop, indie rock, shoegazing, gothic rock
Years active1983–present
LabelsTenor Vossa
Associated actsAnne Clark, A Cruel Memory, This Mortal Coil, Danielle Dax, Heidi Berry
MembersDominic Appleton
Gary Mundy
Ari Neufeld
Tristram Latimer Sayer
Past membersMartyn Watts

Breathless are an English dream pop band formed in 1983 by Dominic Appleton (vocals, keyboards), Gary Mundy (guitar), Ari Neufeld (bass) and Tristram Latimer Sayer (drums).[1] Across nearly four decades, Breathless has released seven studio albums, one compilation album and 13 singles and EPs,[2][3] all on their own label, Tenor Vossa Records.

Their music has been described as "melancholic",[4] with AllMusic's Ned Raggett calling the band "underappreciated" and saying "the majority of Breathless' work has squarely fit into a lush vein of haunting, epic music unafraid of a moody theatricality".[1]

Appleton is also known for his vocal contributions in 4AD supergroup This Mortal Coil, appearing on three tracks on their 1986 album Filigree & Shadow, and one track on their 1991 album Blood.[5]


Formation and first recordings (1983–1986)[edit]

Dominic Appleton and Gary Mundy knew each other from school and had played earlier in a group called A Cruel Memory.[1] Appleton met bassist Ari Neufeld while working at London's Virgin Megastore. Neufeld recruited Appleton as a keyboardist for a band she was currently in, but the two soon realized that while they were happy making music together, the band as a whole didn't please them.[1] They split away from the group and started working on songs, with Appleton taking over vocal duties and suggesting Mundy for the guitarist role. The name "Breathless" was taken from Jean-Luc Godard's French New Wave film of the same name.[1]

In April 1984, Breathless released their first single, "Waterland"/"Second Heaven". The band recorded "Waterland", "Second Heaven", and an unreleased song entitled "The First Issue" at Denmark Street Studios in London two weeks after drummer Tristram Latimer Sayer joined the band.[6] They recorded a follow-up to their debut single with "Ageless", a three-song 12" single released in November 1984. The sessions for the single actually yielded an entire album's worth of songs, but according to Neufeld, "We were young [and] inexperienced in recording", and the band ultimately was disappointed in all but three of the songs recorded.[7] The recording sessions at Alvic Studios in West London marked the first time the band would work with engineer/producer Drostan Madden, who had been recommended to Breathless by 4AD's boss Ivo Watts-Russell.[7] The EP Two Days from Eden followed in August 1985, prior to their debut album, The Glass Bead Game, which was issued in June 1986. The band recorded with John Fryer at Blackwing Studios in London. Another EP, Nailing Colours to the Wheel, was released in November 1986.

Three Times and Waving to Heartburst (1987–1994)[edit]

While recording their sophomore studio album, Three Times and Waving, drummer Latimer Sayer left the band. He was subsequently replaced by Martyn Watts, who played on four tracks on the album (the other five tracks feature drumming from Latimer Sayer).[8] Three Times and Waving was released in November 1987, and the album cover features a 1961 painting from Jean Dubuffet entitled "Spinning Round".[8] The year 1989 saw Breathless release their third album Chasing Promises and the follow-up single "I Never Know Where You Are". According to Neufeld, the band had originally intended to use a re-recorded version of Chasing Promises album track "Moment by Moment" for release as a single, but were "so pleased" with the recording of new track "I Never Know Where You Are" that they decided to make the song the A-side.[9] The song would also feature prominently on the band's next album as the opening track.

The double A-side single "Always"/"Flowers Die" was released in the summer of 1990; the former was a non-album track, while the latter—a cover version of a song originally by the Only Ones—would also feature on their fourth album. Neufeld said, "We felt that we wanted a slightly rawer, less produced sound for our next record and decided to have a change of scene and go back to recording with Drostan [Madden]",[9] so the band produced their fourth album, Between Happiness and Heartache, with Madden and Ken Gardener at Rooster and Blackwing Studios.[10] The album was released in October 1991, while the first proper single, "Over and Over"/"All That Matters Now", followed in November. A music video was also produced for "Over and Over", directed by Damon Heath.

A compilation of tracks recorded between 1983 and 1993 was issued as Heartburst in March 1994, preceded by the 1993 non-album single "Don't Just Disappear". The band took a recording hiatus after the release of "Don't Just Disappear" and did not release any new music until mid-1999.

Post-hiatus and recent recordings (1999–present)[edit]

Breathless re-emerged in 1999 with their fifth album Blue Moon, an album featuring a more prominent drone rock influence.[11] Two singles were released from the album: "Magic Lamp" in June 1999, and "Walk Down to the Water"/"Goodnight" in June 2000. Following album Behind the Light was released in June 2003 and continued the band's sonic foray into space and drone rock. In 2006, Martyn Watts announced his departure from the band, but in 2011 Breathless announced the return of original drummer Latimer Sayer. The seventh Breathless studio album, Green to Blue, was released in November 2012, issued as a double album. Green to Blue was the first new recording from the band following a nine-year hiatus, and features special guest and This Mortal Coil/4AD alumna Heidi Berry providing backing vocals on album track "Just for Today".[12]

Most recently, the band reissued Blue Moon as an expanded double CD and a first-time pressing on double vinyl in February 2016.[13]

Side projects[edit]

Between 1986 and 1991, Appleton was asked by 4AD label founder Ivo Watts-Russell to contribute vocals to the 4AD supergroup This Mortal Coil, appearing on three tracks on their 1986 sophomore album, Filigree & Shadow ("The Jeweller", "Tarantula" and "Strength of Strings"), and one track on their 1991 album Blood ("I Am the Cosmos"). Appleton was one of a select few artists to contribute to This Mortal Coil who was not a 4AD signing. Watts-Russell said of Appleton, "Without exaggeration Dominic Appleton is by far my favourite living male vocalist. He has such a beautiful, sad voice and comes up with melodies that do the same".[14]

Prior to Breathless, Appleton and Mundy played keyboards and guitar, respectively, on Anne Clark's 1982 debut album, The Sitting Room.[15]

Breathless established their own record label, Tenor Vossa Records, to release their material. Tenor Vossa's roster has also included releases from Richard Warren, Laymar, Beat Milk Jugs, Bender, Scenic, Moly, Your Black Star and photographer Steve Gullick's musical project Tenebrous Liar.[16]


In a 2012 interview with online magazine Pennyblackmusic, Appleton told interviewer Carl Brookstein that the band's shared influences include Pink Floyd, the Velvet Underground, the Only Ones, Can, Cocteau Twins and Brian Eno.[17] He told Brookstein that he was "very caught up in the music being put out by 4AD" in the 1980s, including Rema-Rema, Mass, the Wolfgang Press, Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance, even prior to participating with the label's supergroup This Mortal Coil. He said, "Hearing 'Song to the Siren' for the first time was a monumental moment for me, and It'll End in Tears was stunning... This Mortal Coil are there in the Breathless melting pot, music that's so beautiful and fragile".[17] Appleton noted a preference for female singers, citing Elizabeth Fraser and Billie Holiday as key vocal influences, while hailing Kate Bush as having "the most amazing musical imagination". He also said, "I am not a huge fan of many male singers, but I think John Grant has a stunning voice and I've listened to David Sylvian since I was a teenager".[17] He further cited the Only Ones' Peter Perrett as his favourite lyricist, and Mark Cox of Mass and the Wolfgang Press as his favourite keyboard player. Appleton also noted Peter Hook and Jah Wobble as influences on Neufeld's bass playing, and Tom Verlaine, Neil Young, Maurice Deebank and John Perry as guitarist Mundy's top influences.[17]

In the 2012 interview with Pennyblackmusic, Appleton said that his lyrics are autobiographical. "I find it really hard to sing about things that aren't real or I can't relate to", he said.[17] In a 2016 interview with Pennyblackmusic, Appleton acknowledged the band's melancholy sound, saying, "I think that's what Breathless do best. In the past people have criticised us for our melancholy sound and I felt defensive about it and tried to justify it. I just don't care now, the fact is that's what we do and what I love about what we do. The bulk of the music I listen to is melancholy and I know Ari and Gary are the same. I listen to pop music too when I feel like it and I enjoy it a lot but it's a different kind of listening. I don't understand why people find melancholia a negative thing in music. I think it's positive, it's reflective and thoughtful, it's complex and it's wonderfully indulgent and emotional. It's not wallowing in self-pity, it's losing yourself in self-reflection and nostalgia".[4]


Current members
  • Dominic Appleton – vocals, keyboards (1983–present)
  • Gary Mundy – guitars, additional vocals (1983–present)
  • Ari Neufeld – bass, additional guitar (1983–present)
  • Tristram Latimer Sayer – drums, percussion (1983-1987, 2011–present)
Former members
  • Martyn Watts – drums, percussion (1987-2006)



Year Title Track listing
1986 The Glass Bead Game
  • Released: June 1986
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH4)
  • Formats: LP, CD
1987 Three Times and Waving
  • Released: November 1987
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH6)
  • Formats: LP, CD
1989 Chasing Promises
  • Released: April 1989
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH7) (UK);
    Troy Records (TROY005) (US)
  • Formats: LP, CD
1991 Between Happiness and Heartache
  • Released: October 1991
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH10)
  • Formats: LP, CD
  • Reissued: 16 October 2006
  • Format: enhanced CD (with bonus track, music video for "Over and Over", and black-and-white cover art)
1999 Blue Moon
  • Released: 25 June 1999
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH15/16)
  • Formats: CD, limited edition 2CD
  • Reissued: 12 February 2016
  • Formats: 2CD, 2LP (with bonus tracks)
2003 Behind the Light
  • Released: 16 June 2003
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH19)
  • Format: CD
2012 Green to Blue
  • Released: 26 November 2012
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH20)
  • Formats: 2CD, 2LP

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Title Details
1994 Heartburst
  • Released: 28 March 1994
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH13);
    compilation of tracks 1983-1993
  • Format: CD

Singles and EPs[edit]

Year Single Details
1984 "Waterland"/"Second Heaven"
  • Released: April 1984
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH1)
  • Released: November 1984
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH2)
1985 Two Days from Eden EP
  • Released: August 1985
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH3)
1986 Nailing Colours to the Wheel EP
  • Released: November 1986
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH5)
1989 "I Never Know Where You Are"
  • Released: October 1989
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH8)
1990 "Always"/"Flowers Die"
  • Released: July 1990
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH9)
1991 "Over and Over"/"All That Matters Now"
  • Released: November 1991
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH11)
1993 "Don't Just Disappear"
  • Released: July 1993
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH12)
1999 "Magic Lamp"
  • Released: 28 June 1999
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH14)
2000 "Walk Down to the Water"/"Goodnight"
  • Released: June 2000
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH17)
2003 "After All These Years"
  • Released: April 2003
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH18)
2012 "Next Time You Fall"/"I Want You to Realise"
  • Released: 19 November 2012
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (promo-only)
2013 "Please Be Happy"
  • Released: 20 April 2013
  • Label: Tenor Vossa (BREATH22)

Music videos[edit]

Year Video Director Link
1991 "Over and Over" Damon Heath YouTube
1993 "Don't Just Disappear" YouTube
2012 "Next Time You Fall" Harry Wright YouTube
"I Want You to Realise" Harry Wright YouTube
2013 "Please Be Happy" David Masters YouTube
2015 "Walk Down to the Water" Ari Neufeld YouTube


  1. ^ a b c d e Raggett, Ned. "Breathless - Biography & History - AllMusic". Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  2. ^ "". Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  3. ^ "Breathless Discography at Discogs". Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  4. ^ a b Brookstein, Carl (8 March 2016). "Breathless - Interview (2016)". Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  5. ^ Lazell, Barry (1997). Indie Hits 1980-1999. Cherry Red Books. ISBN 0-9517206-9-4.
  6. ^ Neufeld, Ari. "Waterland". Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b Neufeld, Ari. "Ageless". Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  8. ^ a b "Breathless - Three Times And Waving (LP, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  9. ^ a b Neufeld, Ari. "I Never Know Where You Are". Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  10. ^ "Breathless - Between Happiness And Heartache (LP, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  11. ^ Raggett, Ned. "Blue Moon - Breathless". Retrieved 12 April 2016.
  12. ^ "Breathless - Green To Blue (CD, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  13. ^ Banks, Joe (8 February 2016). "The Quietus - Reviews - Breathless". Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  14. ^ "Breathless". Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  15. ^ "Anne Clark - The Sitting Room (Vinyl, LP, Album) at Discogs". Retrieved 8 April 2016.
  16. ^ "Tenor Vossa & TV Records". Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  17. ^ a b c d e Brookstein, Carl (29 October 2012). "Breathless - Interview (2012)". Retrieved 8 April 2016.

External links[edit]