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Belladonna

21 customer reviews

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Audio CD, July 12, 2005
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

When Brian Eno recorded his landmark ambient releases of the 1980's and '90's, he transformed our perception of space, music, and performance. His collaborator on those albums, and on his subsequent ground-breaking production work with U2, was Daniel Lanois. Lanois took the techniques he developed with Eno and went on to produce career albums for Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, and Emmylou Harris, earning him Rolling Stone's accolade as 'the most important record producer to emerge in the '80s.' Now the journey comes full circle, with Lanois' new release Belladonna, an instrumental record that captures the often tense emotional dynamics of Eno's pioneering albums. Anchored by Lanois' emotive pedal-steel guitar playing, the album also features powerful contributions from master pianist Brad Mehldau and drummer Brian Blade. Dense textures evolve into delicate Mexican melodies, capturing the disquieting serenity of the landscapes of the American southwest. 13 tracks. Anti/Epitaph. 2005.

Amazon.com

For years, Daniel Lanois has been producing lush soundscapes for his own projects as well as those he's produced. From U2's The Unforgettable Fire to Emmylou Harris's Wrecking Ball, Lanois's distinct floating-in-the-clouds sound is instantly recognizable to even the most casual listener. Direct comparisons to master producer Brian Eno are not just obvious, they are inevitable; Lanois admits to being Eno's apprentice through the ambient master's instrumental projects in the '80s and '90s. After making a few singer/songwriter discs, Lanois says he decided to go fully instrumental on Belladonna to allow all listeners to "use their imagination and build their own scenario" rather than having the story handed to them. In that, he has succeeded. The focus here is unquestionably on the music--long, languid compositions built largely around pedal steel guitar. Unlike Lanois's previous discs, which included guest performers from Emmylou Harris to Willie Nelson to Bono, no famous friends appear here. Instead, much like the Sling Blade soundtrack (which Lanois penned), this disc remains a dreamy collection best suited to yoga, candlelit baths, and other moments of dusk fading to darkness. --Denise Sheppard


1. Two Worlds
2. Sketches
3. Oaxaca
4. Agave
5. Telco
6. Desert Rose
7. Carla
8. The Deadly Nightshade
9. Dusty
10. Frozen
11. Panorama
12. Flametop Green
13. Todos Santos

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 12, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Anti
  • ASIN: B0009PLM5I
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,048 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Christopher J. Benz on July 30, 2005
Format: Audio CD
It is a huge relief for Lanois fans to find him active a mere 2 years after the superb 'Shine' album. The wait between that album and the previous solo effort 'For the Beauty of Wynona' was a long 10 years.

For those not familiar with Lanois' career, you can start your journey by knowing that he is a now legendary producer who brought his unmistakable signature to the likes of U2 (Unforgettable Fire, The Joshua Tree and more), Bob Dylan, The Neville Brothers, Peter Gabriel (So) - the list is enormous. He is a longtime collaborator of producer/musician Brian Eno, bringing an altogether more humanist, organic warmth to his productions - nothing sounds synthesised in Lanois' sonic world, everything is alive.

I must admit, I have always been chasing an album from Lanois that rivals his first solo outing 'Acadie', still equal to any album I've ever heard. If you don't know 'Acadie', I cannot urge you enough to seek it out.

If you had ever wished that Lanois would abandon lyrics and vocals and paint an album with melodies and textures, Brian Eno style, then 'Belladonna' will have you in raptures. It's a complex, rich, ethereal thing of beauty with enough detail to keep the most discerning listener happy for months.

At first you might miss the organic warmth of Lanois' voice and his sense of lyrical poetry, but his real contribution to music has always been his unique sound and this album allows us the freedom and pleasure of exploring musical journeys that are rich and beautiful, ranging from ambient soundscapes, soulful New Orleans style melodies, latin refrains and endlessly inventive instrumentation and production.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Steven Reynolds on July 17, 2005
Format: Audio CD
If you were ever looking for a metaphor to describe the conundrum of dark beauty and spine-tingling warmth that is the music of Daniel Lanois, then "belladonna" is it: a beautiful poisonous flower revered for its power to heal. Eschewing lyrics as he did for several tracks on his previous album, Lanois gives listeners the chance to "make up their own scenarios" as he puts it. And you will: these songs are tremendously evocative of desert nights, broken hearts, contemplation, vulnerability and moments of human connection. You'll be writing your own Wim Wenders movie in your mind. Pedal steel and feedback are the stars here, but Lanois and his collaborators twist them via Latin and desert country influences to produce a suite of tracks that sound much bigger and richer than you might give the arrangements credit for. These are soundscapes you can disappear into. They're all given the unmistakable Lanois treatment in the mix which could be accurately described as Taoist: I have no idea how he does it, but he consistently conveys a sense of emptiness and overflowing immensity all at once. It's magical.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By R. Taylor on June 30, 2005
Format: Audio CD
Ok...Daniel Lanois. Talented, successful, mysterious. Love everything he's done. Is Belladonna a perfect record? No. But it definitely grows on you. I'm big into Lanois' characteristic 'atmospheres' and his wonderfully sensual playing. This album gets a 4 because 1) I'm still listening and learning about it, 2) It's not what I expected- which is good and bad, 3) It's a bit self-indulgent, and there's really nothing new here. All of which is good and bad. Buy it, experience it, just don't expect it to blow you away, expect it to soak into as you sip tequilla and dream of a beautiful lover you have yet to meet.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jim Reed on March 7, 2006
Format: Audio CD
If Brian Eno followed his ambient classic Music for Airports with Music for Westerns it would probably sound like this.On this album there is no singing by Daniel Lanois just a nice collection of beautiful western tinged ambient music.Very blissful and atmospheric.My only complaint is that it is also very short at under 40 minutes and I wish that it went on longer.If you're a fan of Brian Eno's non vocal work or of Harold Budd you will enjoy this dreamy album.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By David King on October 9, 2005
Format: Audio CD
I would have given this 4.5 stars if the rating system had allowed it, only because I thirst for his voice! It is nowhere to be found on this otherwise very fine record. This could have been the soundtrack to an imaginary movie in the Sling Blade tradition--indeed, much reminds me of Lanois' brilliant soundtrack to that movie.

Signature density with simultaneous weightlessness, so difficult to achieve, infuses every track. Floating pedal steel mixes with eruptions of electric guitar distortion (mercifully held well back in the mix). Thick clouds of synthesizer underlie the opening and closing tracks. Mexican horn section! He seemingly has a bottomless bag of aural tricks.

Only a mild complaint about the sequencing. I'm an inveterate tinkerer, and I resequenced the tracks, and I would recommend that you try it also.

We can only hope that the next one will reunite him with the vocal inspiration of his first solo, Acadie.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By flatlinebeforedeath on November 2, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Definately worth getting. This is pure bliss. It's really relaxed and chill. Good for road trips or having on in the background while conversating with friends. Love this sort of ambience, I'm a big fan of Harold Budd and this is definately up there with his stuff. My favorite track is Frozen, but they're all really good. Check out the sound clips, that's what made me get this.
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