Release Date: Oct 27, 2014
Record label: Anti
Genre(s): Electronic, Ambient, Pop/Rock, Experimental Rock, Electro-Acoustic
Best known as an ambient music pioneer, and producer of Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind and (with Brian Eno) U2’s the Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree, Daniel Lanois is a master of musical textures. His conjuror’s skills with atmospheric sound are most apparent in his solo work. The latest in a series of albums including 1989’s Acadie and 2003’s Shine, Flesh and Machine uses mostly just pianos, pedal steel, drums and cymbals to create detailed instrumentals in which the instruments that made them are almost unrecognisable.
In the press release for Daniel Lanois’ sixth and latest solo effort, Flesh and Machine, the heralded producer and ambient music virtuoso admits that he is unfamiliar with such esteemed current acts as Burial and Four Tet, artists who have flirted with the genre. Sometimes this specific lack of knowledge can breed fascinating results. In the case of futuristic music, an unawareness of what new sounds artists in ambient and neighboring genres are mining can put the unenlightened artist’s music at risk of becoming dated all too quickly.
A blast of frantic noise, "The End" is not the closer but the second song on Daniel Lanois’ new album, Flesh & Machine. Scribbles of distressed electric guitar and waves of distortion grate against scratchily arrhythmic drums, creating a sustained explosion of sound uninterrupted by lyrics or melody. It’s all static and tension, with no release until it fades into the more percussive "Sioux Lookout".
Grab your headphones and get ready for a weird walk with Daniel Lanois. The producer, songwriter and guitarist responsible for (amongst many other things) helping to launch U2 into superstardom and producing Bob Dylan's Time Out Of Mind revisits the ambient work he did with Brian Eno in the early '80s on his latest album, Flesh And Machine. Not your typical electronic album, Lanois built the sounds on Flesh And Machine from manipulating real instruments: steel and electric guitars, piano, bass, drums and the human voice.
Daniel Lanois may not be a household name, but his accomplishments in music are matched by few. He’s not just an artist but an engineer; not just an engineer but a producer; not just a producer but an acclaimed studio general – and long-time Brian Eno collaborator – whose mixing desk credits include such seminal works as Bob Dylan‘s Oh Mercy, Peter Gabriel‘s So, Us, Emmylou Harris‘s Wrecking Ball and, along with Eno, three of U2‘s most important albums: The Joshua Tree, The Unforgettable Fire and Achtung Baby. He has been labelled, in fact, “the most important record producer to emerge in the ’80s.
Flesh & Machine is Daniel Lanois' seventh or eighth album depending on how one counts them. It contains no "songs," but rather 11 sonic compositions that have been painstakingly structured from sketch instrumentation (guitars, pedal steel, drums, basses, organs, pianos, an omnichord) and voices (human and otherwise), put through intricate webs of digital processing, editing, and sampling. What started as an ambient album -- the tracks "Space Love" and closer "Forest City" are testaments to that -- spiraled into something else, a record where the recording studio becomes the instrument of choice.
Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Rock & Roll Time” sounds like an after-hours session with famous friends, vintage guitars and a half-planned set list. Why not? Jerry Lee Lewis is a rebel, an authentic person; let him make an authentic record. Free him from restrictions! It isn’t that simple anymore, if it ever was. A lot of great Southern singers from the 1950s and ’60s have made late-career records like this over the last 20 years, and gradually, authenticity has become artifice like anything else, a direct route to a Grammy Award.