‘One of the best acoustic guitar players of our time’ – Jon Neudorf, Sea of Tranquility
‘Music of serious quality and distinction’ – Tom Robinson, BBC 6 Music
‘The best guitar playing I have heard for a long, long time’ – Victor Wooten, bass player
‘An outstanding guitarist whose originality of thought makes him far more than just another gifted purveyor of finger acrobatics’ – Classical Guitar Magazine
‘A man whose fingers have the ability to harness any imaginable sound in any given style’ – Sean Bradbury, Getintothis
‘Wild and wonderful music’ – Jon Anderson (Yes/Jon and Vangelis) [on Neil’s band project Bulbs]
The music of Liverpool multi-instrumentalist and composer Neil Campbell draws on elements of contemporary classical, progressive rock, jazz and other musical styles. His output includes pieces for solo guitar, guitar and cello, songs, instrumental ensemble pieces and choral music.
He has performed and recorded critically acclaimed albums with The Neil Campbell Collective, Bulbs, The Perri and Neil Quartet (with vocalist Perri Alleyne-Hughes) and others. He has also collaborated on live projects and recordings with Jon Anderson (Yes), Sense of Sound Singers, DJ Yousef, Anne Taft (Ghost Stories – A Night Opera), Carlo Bowry (Wizards of Twiddly) and composer Gordon Ross. Over the last fifteen years he has performed support slots for artists as diverse as Thea Gilmore, Jan Ackerman (Focus), Vini Reilly (Durutti Column), bassist Victor Wooten, folk guitar legend Davey Graham and saxophonist Courtney Pine.
In 2009 he premiered his composition Frankenstein at St George’s Hall Concert Room. This was a 60 minute long piece for rock band, choir (Sense of Sound Singers) and multimedia visual projections based on Mary Shelley’s classic novel. This performance was later reprised at BBC Radio Merseyside in a live recorded broadcast in May 2010 on Spencer Leigh’s ‘On the Beat’ programme featuring actor Gary Mavers as narrator.
He has produced three CDs of solo guitar music Through the Looking Glass (Mayfield Records 2003), Night Sketches (2004) and Tabula Rasa Suite (2014) along with a book of his compositions for solo classical guitar. Neil’s solo performances often involve him using loops and other technology to expand the sound and scope of what one performer can do with the classical guitar. As a soloist he has performed in the UK and Europe, and has been a regular performer at the International Guitar Festival of Great Britain. He particularly enjoys playing in ‘special’ venues and has performed solo concerts in spaces such as Union Chapel (London), Lancaster Priory, Birkenhead Priory, Sheffield Cathedral, Liverpool Central Library, John Ryland’s Library (Manchester), Chetham’s School of Music Library (Manchester) and St Lukes (Bombed Out) Church (Liverpool). In October 2013 took part in the legendary Irish Sea Sessions at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London.
In 2012 he formed the band project Bulbs, with ex-members of Liverpool band Zeb and his own band Neil Campbell Collective. This culminated in the album On (2013). Shortly after he focused on completing two further solo albums Tabula Rasa Suite (2014) and eMErgence (2015) and developing new arrangements of the music of Philip Glass (with Carlo Bowry) and Joni Mitchell (with The Perri and Neil Quartet) for recording and performance. Following a longstanding collaborative process of sharing musical ideas across the internet, he, and other members of his band Bulbs, contributed as co-writers to significant sections of Jon Anderson and Roine Stolt’s album The Invention of Knowledge (Inside Out 2016).
In 2017 he released the spoken word/music album Estuary with poet Seán Street and vocalist Perri Alleyne-Hughes, a collaborative project following on from a performance premiered two years earlier at Liverpool’s Writing on the Wall Festival.
From 2018 – 2019 he released three albums in what he calls his Flood Trilogy, comprising the neo-Baroque solo album The Outsider/News from Nowhere (2018), a concept album based on William Morris’s utopian socialist novel, After the Flood (2018), his latest band’s debut album, and Last Year’s News (2019). During this time he also made significant contributions to Irish musician Úna Quinn’s critically acclaimed debut album Inside Out (2019).
Across the period of the pandemic in 2020 Neil focused on the recording of a new album for Klee Music, The Great Escape. It was his first release on vinyl and was released in December 2021. The album included 12 original multi-layered compositions exuding the atmosphere of a travelogue with airy arrangements and jazzy chord progressions. Very much a collaboration with producer/engineer Jon Lawton, Crosstown Studios Liverpool, throughout the album Neil performs almost all of the significant number of instrumental parts himself, with Norwegian drummer Viktor Nordberg at the sticks.
In 2022 Neil released three new recordings, Berlin Suite and Other Short Stories, a collaborative EP with cellist Nicole Collarbone, Faldum, a symphonic instrumental concept album and Alive in Prohibition, his first ever live album of a solo performance at Liverpool’s Prohibition Recording Studios.
In 2023 Neil released a further mini-album, Journey Into Space, a suite of short pieces for guitars inspired by the poetry of Sean Street, which was released ahead of their performance together in late May as part of Liverpool’s Writing on the Wall Festival 2023.
In October 2023 Úna Quinn and Neil Campbell were commissioned by Liverpool Irish Festival to produce a new song, ‘Those Roads’, to commemorate the Irish Famine.
In March 2024 Neil Campbell released the mini-album ‘The Smoky God’ on CD and digital. This is an instrumental concept album based upon Willis George Emerson’s 1908 book ‘The Smoky God, or a Voyage Journey to the Inner Earth’. In the novel a young Norwegian sailor, Olaf Jansen, sails with his father through an entrance to the Earth’s interior at the North Pole and for two years they live with a race of giants in the interior of the earth, which is lit by a “smoky” central sun – the Smoky God. The album melds propulsive and epic progressive rock with systems (minimalist) music in equal measure and is Campbell’s most symphonic and electronic statement to date.