Wow, where do I start with this guy? Now well into his 60s, Daniel Lanois was once the most important record producer on the planet as his CV will bare testament. We’re talking U2’s holy trinity of Unforgettable Fire, Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby, Peter Gabriel’s So and U, not forgetting Robbie Robertson’s gloriously eponymous debut to name but few. Not surprising then that he has a hat-trick of best album Grammy Awards to his name.
What people may not know is that Mr Lanois has forged a career as a solo artist with over a dozen albums in the bag, several of his songs covered by major artists, creating material invariably erring towards the ambient, perfectly illustrated by numerous collaborations with the daddy himself, Brian Eno.
Flesh and Machine is no exception to this rule as opener ‘Rocco’ gives you 90 seconds of austere piano mixed with a sampled vocal sounding like Antony Hegarty played backwards. ‘The End’ smacks of Radiohead at their most experimental as skittish twisted guitar vies for attention with breakbeat percussion. ‘Tamboura Jah’ serves up sparse guitar combined with Mr Lanois’ trademark expansive bottom end, as the listener is perhaps taken on a bear hunting expedition deep in the Canadian Rockies. ‘Two Bushes’ and ‘Space Love’ are the album’s two truly otherworldly moments, the latter boasting the most exquisite steel guitar whereas ‘Iceland’ brings back the warmth of the piano, almost incidental music in a 1970s arthouse movie.
Things get a little kitch with ‘My First Love’, a speeded up waltz complete with Acorn Antiques drum sound, but don’t let that put you off, it really is rather lovely. Pick of the album, the darkly hypnotic ‘Opera’ sounds like it should be in a Terminator film whilst penultimate ‘Aquatic’ is hazy and lazy in equal measure, like trying to get out of a bed too early on a Sunday morning as the horizontal hold pulls you slowly but surely back to the most vertically challenged.
‘Forest City’ provides a mesmeric finish to a truly trance inducing record, proving this maple syrup guzzling knob twiddler has not lost his touch.
Words - Mike Price
Released October 27th - Buy from iTunes