There's a risk in trying to write about an instrumental album. There's always a risk that you're gonna run off at the mouth in trying to describe the wonderfully ephemeral. Or that you're gonna try to put into words for others what really can't be adequately described if you haven't heard it yet, ironic considering that this new album is called Goodbye To Language. But a writer can only try and, in trying, draw some attention to one of the most interesting musicians and producers of the post-punk era.
Daniel Lanois is releasing his new record, Goodbye To Language, on Friday via Anti- Records. The instrumental set, recorded with collaborator Rocco DeLuca, has that typical Lanois vibe that even his vocal albums have. It's a sort of sound that he brought to his work with U2, for example, and even a casual fan of this guy knows what I'm talking about. And it permeates all of Goodbye To Language.
On "Time On" and "Falling Stanley", Lanois and DeLuca use expanding keyboard figures behind what sounds like a slide guitar. The effect is not entirely unlike moments on Lanois' superb work with Eno on Apollo: Atmospheres And Landscapes (1983). Elsewhere, on "Deconstruction", there's something vaguely sinister percolating underneath the main textures. There's the barest hint of a blues idea rumbling around in "Later That Night", thanks to that slide guitar, and that track segues nicely into the brief "Suspended", all warm tones.
Goodbye To Language is a modest, unassuming instrumental record of the sort that only a few people in this world seem capable of making. Here, Lanois easily joins the ranks of Eno and Harold Budd in evoking a lot of emotion from such ethereal pieces. Rocco DeLuca and Lanois have produced something warm and affecting here. The overall effect of the pieces when taken as a whole is something marvelous and this work harks back to an earlier era, when music like this was deemed "ambient" and not "new age", and "serious" musicians could crank out records like this and make the end results seem less highbrow than they would in other hands.
[Photo: Marthe Vannebo]