Friday, June 7, 2013

Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood - "Black Pudding" (2013 Ipacac Records)

i like to think that i am objective about the work of Mark Lanegan and that i could say, "that song/album straight up sucks," if it needed to be said.  but so far, over the last 23 years, i just haven't had any reason to say it.  not once.  Lanegan is the fucking Man.  Period.

his new collaboration with London multi-instrumentalist Duke Garwood is no exception.  Garwood provides the moody, barren soundscapes, and Lanegan delivers his most stripped down vocal performances since his first solo album, "The Winding Sheet."  the production is stone cold, as if recorded in an empty and isolated cabin out in the wilderness; Garwood's acoustic guitar reverberating off of the walls and Lanegan's voice crawling down a lonely hallway.  the majority of the album is pretty heavy, thematically, but not exclusively.  there is a nice variety of sounds and never grows stagnant or comes off as overly wrought.

Garwood starts things off with a bit of solo spaghetti western acoustic guitar work to set the mood.

when Lanegan joins in on the second track, Pentecostal, shit gets real.  it becomes clear what this collaboration is going to be.  it's a match made in heaven.  LYRICS

War Memorial is a solemn, brutal tale, courtesy of Lanegan.  garwood is willingly in the background here.  LYRICS

the mood lightens considerably with Mescalito.  the laid back, easy going music would sound at home on Beck's "guero." moments like this keep the album from sinking under its own weight.  LYRICS

Sphinx is an atmospheric, ghostly piece.  Lanegan's words are beautiful and mysterious, perfectly complimenting Garwood's guitar lines and harmonium drone.  LYRICS

Last Rung is a brief poem made up of only two verses set over Garwood's spooky minimalistic piano tinkling.  it comes floating in and dissipates into the ether forever in less than 2 minutes.  LYRICS 

Driver is another almost invisible track. pure atmosphere. Lanegan's three lyrical lines is all he needs. LYRICS

Death Rides a White Horse is a beautiful track, more beautiful than it probably has any business being. but it shows Lanegan's range, that even when he's singing about heavy themes, it can sound gorgeous.  Garwood paints the canvas in the background, and gets out of Lanegan's way, letting him do his thang.

meanwhile, Thank You is harsh and desolate.  Garwood's menacing string drones and piano snakes around Lanegan's bizarre words.  it is a hair-raising piece.  LYRICS

Cold Molly musically changes the mood a clean 180 degrees as Garwood's understated funk lights the fire with Lanegan once again crooning about dead girls.  it's a perfect fit.  LYRICS

Shade of the Sun is the undisputed album highlight.  this features some of the most wrenching yet sublime lyrics in Lanegan's entire career as he reaches something almost Biblical, and Garwood's haunting tones compliment it beautifully.  it's a faultless piece of music from two incredibly talented musicans at the top of their game.  LYRICS

the album closes with another Garwood acoustic guitar instrumental piece and perfectly bookends the record.

Black Pudding is another great album in the Lanegan canon, and was a successful introduction for many (myself included) to Duke Garwood.  i hope to see another collaboration in the near future, the two merge together seemlessly and i am eager to hear more.


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