donderdag 13 augustus 2015

Phantom Radio. Mark Lanegan Band

Does the cover tell the story of an album? In the case of Phantom Radio it doesn't as it is an hideously ugly cover, while the music is more than alright.

Mark Lanegan is more active than ever it seems. As if the devil's chasing him down life's roads. In whatever constellation or collaboration Lanegan's dark, whiskey and smoke edged voice is all over the place. This time again with the name Band behind his name. A band in which some Flemish musicians play a large role.

Mark Lanegan came into my life with the last album of his band Screaming Trees in the mid 90s. What a fantastic album 'Dust' was and is. From that moment on things changed for the band and now I'm listening to another album from the Mark Lanegan Band.

Reading around the album I find that it is over half a year old. Well, I just discovered it and like what I'm hearing, so am sharing the experience with you. Loving music hasn't got anything to do with actuality. The real relationship doesn't open after several spins of the record. Seldom at first listen.

Phantom Radio is a mix of several sorts of music. Let's call the basis rock or indie rock. From there the band starts playing with the sound. In front is always the baritone of Mark Lanegan. He sets the mood. Because of his dark voice it is never a happy one. Let's face it. Lanegan may cause many a laugh at every party he's at, there's no telling not knowing him personally, but on the basis of his singing voice he doesn't sound like it. The music follows his tone of voice. There's always this suspense hanging around him. Built up slowly as suspense should be. Perhaps even a hint of danger. The danger of a drunk with a temper, lashing out with a broken glass or bottle. The music reflects this as it is able to hold back the whole time. It never really lets us see what's up its sleeve. In the restraint is the tension that the music of the Mark Lanegan Band almost makes tangible. On the other hand the release seldom to never comes on Phantom Radio and that is not always pleasant as well. It is a distinct downside to Phantom Radio.

Having discussed the downside, let's return to why I enjoy Phantom Radio anyway. Let's focus on a song like 'Floor of the Ocean'. It's almost Depeche Mode in sound and play. The song has a distinct 80s feel about it, something I usually close to hate, while here the voice of Lanegan gives the song a depth that Depeche Mood seldom found. The fake drums, the 80s bleeps of synths and the 'Enjoy the Silence' like guitar line together create an atmosphere that belies their background and provide something which touches americana somehow. It may sounds strange but that is what this mix of two worlds creates: a fantastic song.

The creative team behind the "Band" is not afraid to work with more modern rhythms and older accents. 'The Killing Seasons' has a near hip hop rhythm and Tubeway Army synths. Why not? It provides Mark Lanegan with a background in which a hanging or two can be addressed in a convincing way, while at the same time providing a form of lightness.

Not all songs on Phantom Radio are as convincing as these two examples. Still the created atmosphere allows Mark Lanegan to do his thing in a very convincing way and that is what the function of everything behind him is, isn't it. On Phantom Radio he seems to be challenged a bit more by a Belgium background that allows for more playfulness in a, relative to Mr. Lanegan's voice of course, way that he may even have been taken out of his comport zone. The result is an album that makes a difference in his back catalogue. Well done in other words.

Wo.

You can listen to 'Death Trip to Tulsa' here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocOPKBLQH6c

or buy on Bol.com:



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