Soulsavers - Broken
A second collaboration between electronica duo Soulsaver and Mark Lanegan, this time with some help from Will Oldham and the Butthole Surfers' Gibby Haynes, "Broken" continues in the downbeat, bluesy, static-filled path first set down on 2007's "It's Not How Far you Fall, It's How You Land."
There has always been a kind of gospel sound to the work of Mark Lanegan, albeit the kind dripping with sex and bile, ala Nick Cave or Greg Dulli. Here his grizzled voice adds the necessary tension and want to what is sometimes overwrought lyrics. Lanegan can never be accused of holding his cards close to his vest, and the self-mythologizing sometimes works "You'll Miss Me When I Burn" and sometimes not (see the cover or Gene Clark's "Some Misunderstanding"). "Unbalanced Pieces" and "Death Bell" work primarily due to their spare, somber arrangements. While Soulsavers save those tunes, the last few songs show true collaboration between them and Lanegan. "By My Side" and "Rolling Sky" (which also features vocals by Red Ghost) are powerful, mournful and desolate, adjectives that sadly don't consistently propel this record.
Still, there is enough poetry and dread on "Broken" to make it one of the more challenging and satisfying recent releases. Soulsavers, Mark Lanegan and company mine ground that could and sometimes does, evoke the clichéd, but overall their attempt at moody, Old Testament Delta-style confession brings the shivers home.
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on 2009-08-21 Archelon Said:
Even though this dark electronic duo's prospects have brightened a lot, their sound hasn't. And they even brought friends this time - Mike Patton of Faith No More and Spiritualized's Jason Pierce to name just two, and we can all immediately see how much more secure this album is than the first, which was mainly recorded off Rich Machin's credit cards.
The touring seems to have worked well for them - despite the heavy, moody atmosphere there are no overblown, self-loathing moments. Rather, the mood is one of quiet reflection and nostalgia, along with a chill that refuses to warm up. It's compact rock, stoned-out jazz and dreamy electronic soul all at once.
Stand-out track number one is the trip-hoppy 'Unbalanced Pieces', the vocal duel between Patton and Lanegan is as enthralling as it is appealingly chafing. Another has to be 'By My Side', with a truly stunning contridution from Sydney's Red Ghost. Cavernous drums and a perfectly-controlled vocal delivery see through an understated high point of the album.
This album is not broaching too much new territory. Ian Glover and Rich Machin have simple expanded and developed what works, and well, if it ain't broke...