Black Hearted Brother’s debut album Stars Are Our Home is out now on Slumberland Records. Black Hearted Brother is the new project of Neil Halstead, Mark Van Hoen, and Nick Holton.
A brave, yet experimental album, Stars Are Our Home boasts the craftsmanship of Halstead, Van Hoen, and Holton’s impressive resumes: Neil Halstead, previously an influential member of Slowdive and Mojave 3; Mark Van Hoen, an original member of Seefeel, subsequently working solo and as Locust; and Nick Holton, the main mover behind Holton’s Opulent Oog, and member of Coley Park, who have released albums on Halstead’s Shady Lane label. They had also previously worked together on Halstead’s 2001 solo album, Sleeping On Roads, though Van Hoen also co-produced Mojave 3’s Out Of Tune (1998), Excuses For Travellers (2000) and Spoon & Rafter (2003), while Holton took up production duties for Halstead’s Palindrome Hunches (2012). Van Hoen and Halstead go back much further still, to 1992, when they were in Seefeel and Slowdive respectively.
Stars Are Our Home mirrors the similar experimental nature of Halstead’s previous work – he describes the album as, “a lot of very long and indulgent space rawk.” The space-rock elements of the album are obvious in the album’s opening title track, but Halstead says there’s more to it: “The idea was to just make a record that was in some ways ‘unedited.’ To not worry about a particular sound or style, but to just go with the flow. We all make quite focused records individually so, as Mark says, it’s our ‘guilty pleasures’ album.”
A record that merges “order” and “chaos”, Stars Are Our Home is full of unexpected twists and turns that drench the listener in noise and then flip back to acoustic melody, and offers surprises with lyrics that sometimes reference romance and other times UFO abduction. Although unexpected and surprising, the experimental nature of the album never forgets the importance of pop with tracks like, “Take Heart,” “I’m Back,” and the closing track, “Look Back Here They Come.”
Black Hearted Brother will announce U.S. tour dates in support of Stars Are Our Home in the coming weeks.