Daniel Lanois


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Acadie (1989), 7/10
For The Beauty Of Wynona (1993), 6.5/10
Shine (2003), 4/10
Belladonna (2005), 6/10
Here Is What Is (2008), 5/10

Flesh and Machine (2014), 6/10
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(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

(Translated from my original Italian text by Christine Koch)

Daniel Lanois, originally from Quebec, but an emigré to New Orleans, became a successful producer in the 1980's (particularly for U2).

Bringing to fruition twenty years of experience and an ability to refine sound to unreal and surreal levels, Lanois recorded his first solo album, Acadie (Opal, 1989). His sophisticated vignettes attempt a fusion of ambient and rock music. Lanois carried out a sophisticated manipulation of popular music: reconstructing "roots-rock" from an "ambient" perspective (that is, impressionist, atmospheric, stratified).
The "ambient" ballads on the album draw their inspiration from multiple sources: country(Still Water), zydeco (Jolie Louise), honky-tonk (Under A Stormy Sky), reggae (Silium's Hill) and psychedelic (Where The Hawkwind Kills), echoing infinite artists, from U2 to Buddy Holly, from Donovan to Bob Dylan. But each becomes an ethereal and intense digression into the concept of song, in which even the smallest detail has been studied purposefully. Intrinisically cajun, this work does not renounce, unlike that of Eno, the expression of the artist's personality.

Four years later, Lanois made another effort with For The Beauty Of Wynona (Warner Bros., 1993). From the swamp rock of Messenger to the aggressive Lotta Love To Give his style showed less calligraphy and more sincerity. The disc's best moments probably lie in the moments of Leonard Cohen-esque melancholy, Death Of A Train and Rocky World. Sleeping In The Devil's Bed and Lotta Love To Give are the songs of a more traditional folk singer. For The Beauty Of Wynona and Waiting, however, reflect the influence of U2. Altogether, the disc presents a rather different auteur: where the first disc was cold and artificial (an album of "sound" more than songs), this album is warm and personal.

Shine (Anti, 2003) is a weak album that relies on floating clusters of angelic sounds to rescue an uninspired batch of generic soul-jazz ballads. The ethereal duet with Emmylou Harris, I Love You is typical of the thin, superficial music of Lanois. At best, his songs resemble eastern spiritual meditations (Slow Giving, Fire, Falling At Your Feet). His talent is best represented by the ghostly instrumentals (Transmitter, Matador, Space Kay, JJ Leaves La) but Lanois is still afraid (or incapable) of expanding on their ideas.

Lanois' electronic world folk music project was better represented by the instrumental Belladonna (2005).

It is a bad sign that the best song on Here Is What Is (2008) is Where Will I Be (originally recorded by Emmylou Harris in 1995).

It would be wrong to describe Flesh and Machine (2014), another instrumental album, as "ambient" music. It is neither contemplative nor static. Most pieces sound more like tormented philosophical meditations

Goodbye to Language (2016) was a collaboration with singer-songwriter Rocco DeLuca.

Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois (2018) was a collaboration with breakcore pioneer Venetian Snares.

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