Slowing down with Neil Halstead
It's easy to lose track of time with Neil Halstead.
From his work with shoegaze notables Slowdive, to the dustier efforts of Mojave 3, and now on his own, the British singer-songwriter has a knack for slowing down the world.
His hushed, unhurried approach to traditional folk is given room to unfurl on his third solo album, the darkly beautiful "Palindrome Hunches," released last month on fellow softy Jack Johnson's Brushfire Records label.
amNewYork spoke with Halstead.
There are some noticeably darker moments on "Palindrome Hunches." How does it contrast with your last effort? It's a darker record for sure. I think "Oh! Mighty Engine" was a much more whimsical take on the day to day. This time the well was indeed drawing a little heavier, and I found myself attracted to stories that were about love, time passing and in some cases death and war. In particular "Wittgenstein's Arm," inspired by the story of [pianist Paul Wittgenstein] in Vienna pre- and post-WWI. That one really seemed to pull some the album themes together.This album was recorded quickly, in a primary school music room. To what do you owe that speed? In the end, the very end, the album was recorded mostly in two days, but I actually recorded the record several times in different ways. There was a "bedroom record," a "pop" version, and a few lo-fi attempts. The songs have been around for a while on the whole, but it really took my friend and producer Nick Holton to suggest the way forward. Once we found the musicians and a decent venue, the thing started to work much better.Your last three albums have all been quiet, acoustic affairs. Would you ever go electric again? Maybe. I've been playing some loud guitar on a project I'm doing with Mark Van Hoen (of Locust) and Nick Holton (of Holton's Opulent Oog). It's a pretty psychedelic beast involving a lot of electronics, Moog and shoegaze guitars.