Stars Are Our Home

Black Hearted Brother

Stars Are Our Home

SLR 196 » released October 2013

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1. Stars Are Our Home 7. Time In The Machine
2. (I Don't Mean To) Wonder 8. Oh Crust
3. This Is How It Feels 9. Take Heart
4. Got Your Love 10. My Baby Just Sailed Away
5. If I Was Here To Change Your Mind 11. I'm Back
6. UFO 12. Look Out Here They Come

Neil Halstead, Mark Van Hoen, and Nick Holton of the newly-formed Black Hearted Brother are thrilled to announce the release of their debut Slumberland album, Stars Are Our Home. A gorgeously-textured yet experimental album, it's rich tapestry of sound creates an almost synaesthesic experience, overflowing with enraptured, glowing textures, flaring white light like magnesium, in consort with brilliant red-blue waves of psychedelia.

Stars Are Our Home boasts the craftsmanship of the its members' impressive resumés: Halstead, previously a member of Slowdive and Mojave 3; Van Hoen, an original member of Seefeel, subsequently working solo and as Locust; and Holton, the main mover behind Holton's Opulent Oog, and member of Coley Park, who have released albums on Halstead's Shady Lane label. Van Hoen co-produced several Mojave 3 albums, while Holton worked with Halstead on his solo albums Sleeping On Roads and Palindrome Hunches. Van Hoen and Halstead go back much further still, to 1992, when they were in Seefeel and Slowdive respectively: ‘Mark taught Neil much that was electronic and ambient music.'

You could hear that education bearing fruit with Slowdive's late-period masterpiece, 1995's Pygmalion. In some ways, Stars Are Our Home echoes that album's experimental process, if not the outcome, as Black Hearted Brother are a very different, distinctive beast, often indulging in what Halstead, self-deprecatingly, describes as ‘a lot of very long and indulgent space rawk.' And indeed, that space-rock drive is writ loud and clear on the album's opening title track, an instrumental bliss-out that navigates through ocean-tides of FX-drenched guitar. But there's a lot more to it: ‘The idea was to just make a record that was in some ways "unedited",' Halstead continues. ‘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.'

‘Neil and Nick had, I think, started a few months before they asked me to join the party,' Van Hoen recalls. ‘I think they had a few songs on the go, and needed an extra hand to add a few funny noises and generally add to the chaos – or maybe bring some order to the chaos.' Van Hoen has picked up on the dialectical nature of Stars Are Our Home here, its "order" and its "chaos": it's a rich, compelling album full of unexpected twists and turns, at times overloading the sensorium with so much material you're drenched in noise, but it'll just as quickly flip back on itself and drift through a glazed-eye, agrarian moment of acoustic melancholy (see the start of "Time In The Machine", which, as if to prove my point, takes less than a minute to build into a clangorous, droning monster).

So, there's a whole lot going on in these grooves, and plenty of it's unexpected, or from unexpected sources. The trio plays fast and loose with what listeners might consider their pre-ordained ‘roles'. ‘Primarily the songs themselves were started either by Nick or Neil individually,' Van Hoen explains, ‘but then edited, developed and generally messed around with and rendered almost unlistenable by either myself or the others.' Lyrics on the record feel like another texture, another layer: sometimes they're invocatory chants, sometimes Halstead's and Holton's voices are ghosted by electronic manipulation, as on "Oh Crust."

Stars Are Our Home is brave and beautiful, mysterious and resonant. Its experimental edges never forget the importance of the pop moment; the best way to bring people around to your way of hearing is to seduce their ears, and there's seduction plenty here, pure pop like "Take Heart", the Other Green World of "I'm Back", the closing drift-work that is "Look Out Here They Come". A real head-wrecker of an album. And what does the future hold? The trio speaks as one: ‘Black Hearted Brother will grow and mature into something very sophisticated in the coming years. A kind of comedic-space-rock-dancehall outfit to define a zeitgeist for the 22nd century, if you like.' Ha, yeah – amen, brothers!

Notes:

LP comes packaged in a beautiful gatefold jacket and includes a download code. Mail orders come with a free lithographic print of Kieran Holden's excellent cover art while supplies last. Sorry, the white vinyl is SOLD OUT.

Co-released with our friends at Sonic Cathedral in the UK; please support your local indie label.

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