Boomkat Product Review:
One of the most interesting and unexpected projects Mark Lanegan got involved with in the final years of his life, ‘Downwelling’ is his collaborative 2019 album with Alessio Natalizia, aka Not Waving - a modernist fusion of barrel-aged narratives and diverse, experimental backdrops that reminds us of everything from Scott Walker to Conny Plank & Moebius, from Christof Kurzmann to David Sylvian. It’s also a record that stands as testament to Lanegan’s unwavering, boundless musical curiosity - a listener with a voracious appetite for new music of all shapes and colours, until the very end.
One of those rare link-ups that truly transcends the sum of its parts, Natalizia's rolling range of nuanced electronics acts as a backdrop for Lanegan’s smoky baritone storytelling. Delivered in a husky but pliable voice, Lanegan inhabits the songs with a reserved presence that served him so well for decades, but which was rarely heard in quite this context.
Pairing music recorded by Natalizia between London, Italy, and Paris, with vocals recorded by Lanegan in LA, the duo reached a dreamy non-place that’s not defined by geography or time. Instead, the album offers a timeless insight into human behaviour, as reflected in the sleeve art details from the ‘Lights of Canopus’, a Persian version of the ancient Indian book of animal fables, the ‘Panchatantra.’ Thanks to Lanegan’s classically dusty tone - famously described as being “scratchy as a three day beard yet as supple as moccasin leather” - and the breadth of Not Waving’s production, the results draw listeners deep into the duo’s world-weary but quietly hopeful perspective, emphasising the power of closeness and empathy.
Their songs come on like waves lapping a shore that’s ever-shifting, ever the same. This cycle is epitomised on the opener, ’Signifying The End’ with Lanegan’s raspy tone met by honeyed synths, before scaling the nocturnal heights of ‘City Of Sin’ and coolly channeling Suicide in ‘Burn Out Babylon.’ The waters calm again for ‘Persimmon Tree’ suitably set to harp-like arps, while the hoarse croon and impending throb of ‘Murder In Fugue’ comes to rest in the serene resolution of ‘The Broken Man’ in a manner that’s entirely modernist but speaks to eons of human emotion.