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Sunday 22 October 2017

Lanegan taps an app for top album results

Mark Lanegan Band Phantom Radio (Heavenly)

What if I say: "I've seen the future of rock'n'roll"?

You'd say: "Don't be daft. That's what Jon Landau, the bloke from Rolling Stone, said about Bruce Springsteen in 1974."

Bruce went on to become "The Boss," churning out albums of blustery, neck-bulging anthems for people who found Status Quo too demanding and Blue Oyster Cult too camp.

While Bruce continues to re-invent rock's glorious future with his interminable live shows, there's a quiet technological revolution going on.

Historically, the arc of the recording process went something like this. A bunch of pilled-up Southern gents gathered around a microphone in Memphis and belted out their rockabilly-meets-rhythm'n'blues hybrids. Soon two-track recorders gave way to four-track machines and later 16-track. The 24-track became the norm and allowed for grandiose excesses that gave even progressive rock a bad name.

When street kids in New York and Detroit began fooling around with drum machines and technology, the DIY craze put many big studios out of business.

"Where will it end?" bleated those who were not hip to change.

The good news is that no one knows. Technology is still evolving. And with those advances, artists become more empowered.

When Mark Lanegan started work on what seems like his umpteenth solo album (given the many collaborations, notably those with Isobel Campbell, that he's dropped on us since first appearing with the Screaming Trees in the mid-1980s), he had yet another fresh idea.

He began recording many of these 10 new songs on an app on his phone.

He says: "It has a collection of vintage drum machine sounds on it. I used FunkBox to compose by writing the drum parts and then added the synthesiser or guitar."

It could have been a sonic disaster but Lanegan clearly knows what he's at.

Of course, his raspy baritone, sounding as if it's chiselled from bog oak soaked in poitin, commands attention. The echoey beat and washing synth soundscape are the perfect foil for his murky tale on Death Trip To Tulsa.

Lyrically, Lanegan concentrates on a landscape somewhere between Son House's John the Revelator and Primal Scream's Kowalski.

Despite its downbeat "I feel your hands around my throat...", The Killing Season glides along like a baggy-era floorfiller.

Floor of the Ocean recalls a narcotic Depeche Mode.

This is rich, dark and dangerous.

HHHII

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