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Mark Lanegan Band - Gargoyle
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Gargoyle is the new album from Mark Lanegan Band. A 10-track LP that features guest appearances from long-time collaborators Josh Homme (Queens of The Stone Age), Greg Dulli and Duke Garwood.
The first song Mark wrote for this record was Blue Blue Sea, a rippling mood piece that he thought might be a more fruitful direction for his new record. It s almost always how my records start, he explains. I let the first couple of songs tell me what the next couple should sound like, and it s really the same process when I m writing words. Whatever my first couple of lines are tell me what the next couple should be. I've always built things like that, sort of like making a sculpture I guess. The album title comes from a lyric in Blue Blue Sea - Gargoyle perched on gothic spire - and was chosen for its hint of self-deprecation.
While sharing roots with its two predecessors, on Gargoyle there s a significant up-shift in the swaggering powerlode of such keynote songs as Nocturne and Beehive, while the lyrics tonal palette is more varied.
Upon hearing the album for the first time Greg Dulli said Wow, I had to listen to it twice - it sounds like he's having a good time...
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To make clear that his partners are more than just backing musicians, here are the songs and their writers:
Death's Head Tattoo (Johannes/Marshall/Lanegan)
Blue Blue Sea (Johannes/Lanegan)
Goodbye to Beauty (Lanegan/Marshall)
Drunk on Destruction (Lanegan/Marshall)
First Day of Winter (Johannes/Lanegan)
Old Swan (Lanegan/Marshall)
Synths dominate the sound, with guitars largely blending into the texture. When guitars take center stage, as on "Drunk on Destruction," with aggressive chords, the contrast is startling. As with Phantom Radio, it took a few spins for my ear to grasp the richness of Gargoyle. (I was instantly floored by Blues Funeral!) The melodies insinuate themselves gradually, and it becomes clear that "Goodbye to Beauty," for instance, is a stunningly lovely ballad, very evocative of the Southwest (Lanegan has long lived in L.A.). Lanegan's lyrics grapple with sin and salvation, and I've seen mention of his Catholicism -- I'm not sure whether that's accurate -- but "Emperor" sounds Buddhist to me:
"Why can't I get right?
All these demons to enslave me
Who is left to fight?
Just the emperor
Just the emperor
Just the emperor"
Who is the Emperor but the ego.
Mark Lanegan and his collaborators have been making some of the best music of the last several years, off on the margins of the money-making machinery of pop music. With their dark yet hopeful vision, they are nourishing the spirit. As we face a failure to act to prevent climate change, as we face unprecedented malfeasance at the highest level of power, we need this music more than ever!
This is the 1st thing I've every heard from Mark & will likely look at more of his stuff.