December 21, 2005
Daniel Lanois is best known for producing megastars such as Bob Dylan, U2, and Peter Gabriel—successes that have sometimes overshadowed his more esoteric ambient and experimental work, as well as his eclectic recordings as a singer/songwriter. On Belladonna, Lanois revisits the ambient soundscapes he pioneered with Brian Eno in the early ’80s, particularly Eno’s Apollo, on which he played processed pedal steel. Inspired by his shamanic experiences in the Southwest, Lanois begins the disc with the rush of a suddenly switched-on tape machine, followed by a dense, heavily flanged pedal-steel excursion titled “Two Worlds.” The remaining 12 pieces continue the journey, some sparse and delicate, others more fully orchestrated—but all decidedly introspective. “Frozen” is the only odd piece out, injecting a reggae vibe into the otherwise desert-like ambience. There’s a lot to like about this very personal statement—especially if you’re a pedal-steel fan—and as might be expected, there are subtle production touches throughout. Anti-.