The album With Animals, is the second collaboration by Mark Lanegan & Duke Garwood. The pair have been heavily involved in each other’s solo studio work, as well as touring with each other.
Over the last decade, Lanegan and Garwood have worked in tangent on 2013’s Black Pudding as well as on Lanegan’s solo records, Garwood contributed to 2012’s Blues Funeral and 2017’s Gargoyle. Writing and recording was split between studio collaboration and sharing music.
”Over the years, we’ve recorded together and apart. This time, I started this record alone, with many animals as company,” says Garwood. “It flowed, I set to work and out it came. Our music is instinct, there is not much talking about it, just creating. I think that if you are at peace with your work, and feeling it right, it flows, and can feel ‘easy’. Music isn’t meant to be hard. Though sometimes it can burn you to ashes. Making music for a singer, so they can inhabit it with a song means hitting the right soul buttons. There is no hit without a miss. It is a healing record, for us the makers, and for the listeners. It grows natural. We are gardeners of sonic feelings.”
This new venture continues in the same vein as previous outings. Their intensity and passion for their craft spills over in twelve tracks of outstanding beauty.
’Feast to Famine’ is a hard luck story which floats above a guitar part so strung out and washed with distortion it’s become barely recognisable. It’s soul music for anyone who’s long since left the crossroads. Along with ‘My Shadow Life’ is perfect example of the power of Lanegan’s voice. It’s rasping pain and simple messages flow over electronic constructed beats. Garwood’s vocals on ‘Upon Doing Something Wrong’ echo with a haunting beauty alongside a simple guitar construction. It illustrates why these two have a musical connection and deep understanding. The album is filled with such examples. A ghost’s whistle weaves itself around a pulsing single note on ‘Lonesome Infidel’.
We get the feeling that not only is this album a construction of well thought out sounds and recording methods. There is also a calmness to the record yet and understanding that all hell is breaking loose outside their window. With their ability to create sparse melodies they embrace everything from 1960s psychedelics through to basslines that would not be out of place on an album of British electronic producers like Burial or Boards of Canada. Which is not to say it sounds like any of those things – this is a weird world all of their own design.