Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment


Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Making the Hegel Mohican CD Player (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Estelon Lynx Wireless Intelligent Loudspeaker (March 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh's Five New Solid-State Integrated Amplifiers (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Amphion's Krypton Loudspeaker (January 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Anthem STR Preamplifier and Power Amplifier (December 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh History and Autoformer Technology (June 2016)

Planet Mu/Timesig TIMESIG008CD
Format: CD

Musical Performance
***1/2

Sound Quality
****

Overall Enjoyment
***1/2

In 2016, Daniel Lanois used his pedal steel guitar as the basis for Goodbye to Language, a series of ambient compositions that recalled Brian Eno and Harold Budd, two composers he’s worked with. His collaborator on that album was Rocco DeLuca, who played lap steel. The complex, layered compositions revealed new sounds and evoked new emotions with each hearing. Tracks that had at first seemed contemplative and calming later opened the way to deeper, sometimes darker territory.

Lanois is back with the pedal steel, but this time his collaborator is Venetian Snares, aka Aaron Funk, a leader in breakcore, a genre of electronic music incorporating hardcore and industrial music. Venetian Snares gets top billing here, and while Funk’s aggressive, percussive, sometimes unsettling music seems at odds with Lanois’s chord washes and volume swells, in repeated playings the music comes together on its own terms.

Lanois’s pedal steel sets an easy tone at the beginning of “Mag11 P82,” before Funk begins to filter in odd bleeps, jerky percussion, and other effects. These give way to even more aggressive, explosive sounds that produce the impression of being trapped inside a dark, claustrophobic video game. But Funk’s sound constructions let through enough of Lanois’s more soothing contributions to suggest that, even in a busy, distracted world, some time to think can be carved out.

Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois

Funk gives Lanois a little more space in the 2:51-long “Hpshk5050 P127.” The guitarist’s otherworldly pedal steel swells and sustains for nearly a minute before Funk adds light percussion, then shifts to more aggressive textures, around which Lanois bobs and weaves. Funk’s shotgun beats are surprisingly at ease with Lanois’s angelic steel-guitar excursions.

Lanois’s guitar takes on some of the ominous feel of Funk’s own music in the 9:33-long “United P92,” and at times the musicians seem to trade places, Funk fading into more considered, evocative sections to let Lanois’s pedal steel come forward to distort, expand, then recede in turn, to fill in behind Funk’s burbles and cracks. The music stutters and shifts in form, becomes frantic dance music, then moves on to a quieter passage suggesting an island of relative calm in a sea of chaos.

All but three of the eight tracks clock in at under four minutes, and the album seems sequenced to contrast extremes of mood -- hectic vs. calm, aggressive vs. laid-back, and so on. The first time I listened to it, Lanois and Funk sounded at cross purposes -- but after several more hearings, Funk’s insertions in “Bernard Revisit P81” sounded more ethereal than confrontational, and “Best P54” more like funky space music brought down to earth by Lanois’s expansive, echo-drenched chords.

Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois

By the time the album ends, with “Ophelius 1stP118,” Lanois’s pedal steel is setting the mood, his soothing melodies subtly supported by Funk. The track brings this brief album, only 33 minutes long, to a satisfying close, but each time it ended I played it all again from the beginning, to figure out what I’d just heard. After several playings over a few days, it all came together -- I was enjoying the work of these two seemingly disparate musical personalities.

As he was on Goodbye to Language, Dangerous Wayne Lorenz is credited with engineering and arranging Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois, and he’s created a challenging aural experience: Funk’s beats are especially impressive, but let Lanois’s guitar come through clearly even in the densest passages. An unusual album that’s well worth your time.

. . . Joseph Taylor
josepht@soundstagenetwork.com