Daniel Lanois, Back in the Ambience

A preview track, "Heavy Sun," from the forthcoming Goodbye to Language

The good news isn’t simply that there’s a new Daniel Lanois album coming out, Goodbye to Language, due September 9 on Anti- Records. The good news is that it’s the Daniel Lanois album that many Daniel Lanois admirers have long been waiting for, one that reflects his early production work with Brian Eno (notably On Land and Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks), and nuances heard later as grace notes and sympathetic background ambience amid the productions he developed for Michael Brook, Jon Hassell, U2, and Bob Dylan, among others, not to mention his own film scores, such as the lilting Sling Blade music.

Lanois’ previous release, Flesh and Machine (2014) had many fine moments of composed quietude, like the wispy warpy opening of “Space Love” and the deeply filtered pedal steel guitar of “Aquatic,” but it was also a rangy listen, from the hard psychedelic dub rock of “The End” to the nostalgic pop of “My First Love.” In contrast, Goodbye to Language — which I’ve been enjoying an advance copy of, and will write more about when it’s released — is a self-contained whole, consistent but certainly far from samey. And the consistency is deep in the ambient zone, a mix of pedal steel and rich effects, a swampy murk full of echoes and glitches, warm swells and gentle atmopsheres.

Again, more on Goodbye to Language when it’s finally out. For now we can enjoy “Heavy Sun,” which has been up on the SoundCloud account of the Anti- label for a few days. With leisurely loops that twist back on themselves and the surfacing glimmers of guitar — either his own pedal steel or the lap steel of guest Rocco DeLuca — the track is among the album’s finest.

2 thoughts on “Daniel Lanois, Back in the Ambience

  1. I’ve had the privilege of hearing the new Lanois album take shape, various iterations of these and several other songs. You’re correct, Marc, this is the logical extension of Dan’s ambient songbook. But, you can’t pin just one genre on Lanois, because he’s a master of them all. Fans will not want to miss “Goodbye To Language” (ANTI-) or possible tour dates supporting its release!

    1. Thanks, Lance. Yeah, I hesitate to pin that word on him, except that through association and practice he’s helpfully expanded the definition. For all the background-ness of the music, it’s also texturally rural and song-like, folk-like. I hope he does tour, and makes it to San Francisco.

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