Superproducer and ambient music pioneer Daniel Lanois has announced a new album of instrumentals for keyboard, Player, Piano.
“Making this record transported me,” explains Lanois. “I got to travel to Cuba and Mexico and Jamaica. I got to visit with the ghosts of Erik Satie and Oscar Peterson and Harold Budd. I got to go back in time to my work with Brian Eno and Kate Bush and Emmylou Harris. And I did it all without ever leaving my studio.”
“My good friend Margaret Marissen had been encouraging me to make a solo piano record for a while,” says Lanois. “I decided that if I was going to make a piano record, I wanted it to sound like recordings from the ‘40s and ’50s, back when the piano was soft and beautiful.”
So Lanois and Lorenz set about transforming each of the three pianos in the studio, dampening the strings with tea towels and dulling the percussive impact of the hammers by adding small felt pads to the heads. When it came time to record, they used vintage ribbon mics and arranged them behind the instruments rather than in front in an effort to further soften the sound.
“I’m sure there are people out there who will have a heart attack over the idea of us putting these little felt hats on every hammer of this gorgeous Steinway piano,” Lanois laughs, “but the result was so much more emotive and nuanced that it opened up whole new worlds for me to explore as a composer.”
The musical settings on Player, Piano are describes as works of sonic collage.
“Almost all of the harmonic complements you hear on the record are crafted out of piano samples that I’ve chopped up and manipulated before putting back into the arrangements,” explains Lanois. “Editing is a huge part of my artistry, and no matter how far those sounds evolved from their original sources, nearly everything you’re hearing is still cut from the same cloth.”
The video at top captures the Lanois’ raw performance. The video below captures the final recording:
Player, Piano Tracklist:
Player, Piano will be available September 23rd, and is available now to pre-order.