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20 mars 2008

Making music for meditation

Daniel Lanois Here Is What Is (Red Floor)

There's no debating the skill of Daniel Lanois as a producer, not after his transcendently beautiful work with U2, Peter Gabriel, and Bob Dylan. His solo discs also have a gentle force of their own. Lanois makes music for meditation - and this new record extends the reach of this decade's previous full-length releases, "Shine" and "Belladonna."

He again explores the cosmic side of pedal-steel guitar, which he says "takes me to a sacred place - it's my little church in a suitcase." This comment is from several snippets of dialogue with famed producer Brian Eno woven through the CD (and taken from a new DVD with the same title). The minimalist atmospheres achieve a quiet psychedelia aided by jazz drummer Brian Blade and keyboardist Garth Hudson of the Band, a worthy accomplice.

Lanois sings with the softly arresting tone of Leonard Cohen and Robbie Robertson, while expressing his spiritual search: "Give me hope . . . in any situation give me heaven," he intones on "I Like That." Some of his lyrics are more fuzzy and unfathomable (no one said Lanois was an easy study), but he hones his craft with another deeply calming disc that is among his best.

[Steve Morse]

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