I first heard of Neil Halstead back in the 1990s when he was in Slowdive, at the time when 'shoegazing' was the new fad. Inevitably Slowdive, whose music had more than a hint of the genre's defining wall-of-sound and effects-strewn textures (which my friends and I were totally taken by) found themselves part of this new movement, for better or worse. That the band and its collected works continue to be referenced by most latter-day 'dreampop' (as shoegazing came to be known in the US) acts as a core influence is a triumph of sorts, though not one that Halstead (or any of the other band members for that matter) has taken for granted in their pursuit of new musical endeavours.
Proof of this are the several projects Halstead was later involved in, namely Mojave 3, the band that rose from the ashes of Slowdive (who have since reconvened); Black Hearted Brother, the band he formed with Locust's Mark Van Hoen and Coley Park's Nicholas Holton, but most important of all, his solo career. Mojave 3 and Black Hearted Brother's recorded output revealed different sides to the artist's musical personality, but nowhere as much as his solo work. On his own, Halstead the singer-songwriter is on a different level. The music is emphatically folky, stripped down, engaging and with enough space to totally lose oneself in while still being held together with its brittle acoustic essence and the artist's invitingly warm vocal timbre.
Together, all of these aspects come together to produce countless magical moments, all captured to great effect on Halstead's several solo albums to date but, I expect, even more so when experienced in an intimate live setting, which is why I'm looking forward to his only live performance in Malta on Friday, October 2 at the Salesian Theatre in Sliema. And if that wasn't already good enough, our very own Stalko will be opening for Neil Halstead. Too good to miss indeed! For more information, click here.
In the meantime, here's a very tiny taste of work that has been touched by Neil Halstead to whet your appetite:
Slowdive - Shine
Mojave 3 - My LIfe In Art
Black Hearted Brother - UFO
Alcest ft Neil Halstead - Away
Neil Halstead - Full Moon Rising
and last but not least, one from Stalko....