With Animals by Mark Lanegan & Duke GarwoodRelease date: August 24, 2018
Label: Heavenly Recordings
Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood might have different last names and come from two different sides of the Atlantic Ocean, but on record, tape, live, whatever, they sound like siblings. And it is not only their voices, where you could easily file With Animals, their second joint album along ‘the three tenors’, it is the like-mindedness of their musical concepts and the way they have conceived this album.
It is not just that you perceive and digest the music in a certain singular manner, on With Animals Lanegan & Garwood seem to be doing everything in unison as if the whole thing was thought out and done by one person. And of course, when that is the case, it really works!
If the album cover conjures all things nocturnal and the title adds to the picture, that is only half of the story. The duo takes all the dark elements night brings and extracts as much beauty out of it as they possibly can.
To do that, Lanegan & Garwood went all analogue in the recording process, even when the electronic sounds present. At moments, it sounds as if they tried to see if they could make the dark sound of Sly Stone’s There’s A Riot Going’ On sound even darker. And they make it. As Garwood petit it in a pre-album interview, “The music is lo-fi, hi-fi run through stardust analogue. It’s an 8 track cassette tape machine. Studio tracks got put through the tape to wring out the digital elements of slow tools – one has to override the digital with a pure soul, and not be too clean. All effects on the record are genuinely analogue, with love. With dust.”
And that dust squeaks particularly well on tracks like ‘L.A. Blue’ which sounds as if it was recorded on Blind Lemon Jefferson’s back porch. If you listen closely to the title track, you might even hear Lanegan’s ‘home animals’ (five of them, actually), giving the album’s title the literal element along the way. On the other hand, the constant thump on ’Scarlett’ (Johansen?) gives the song a longing element that is also present throughout the album, and the distant whistling on ‘Lonesome Infidel’ just underscores both the scary and the beautiful elements the night brings along with it.
In essence, With Animals is some of the best nocturnal music to be heard recently.