Album Reviews

Album Review: Alain Johannes – Spark (Domino)

By | Published on Wednesday 25 May 2011

Alain Johannes

‘Spark’ is a tribute to Alain Johannes’ late Eleven bandmate and partner Natasha Shneider who died three years ago of cancer, and is a gorgeous record of many layers and depths in its short 29 minute run.

A man who has worked with and is lauded by many artists, from Queens Of The Stone Age’s Josh Homme to Mark Lanegan and UNKLE, Johannes is also part of Brody Dalle’s most recent formation Spinnerette, who produced what has to be one of my favourite albums of 2009. Johannes has a lot of that rock royalty behind him, permanently floating on his CV, but it shouldn’t distract from this debut solo effort. It stands perfectly strong on its own, a solid record, at once arresting, haunting and something really quite different and unexpected.

Multi-layered acoustics create a recurrently captivating platform for Johannes’ strong voice, a voice that’s hard to hide any iota of emotion within. ‘Speechless’ sounds dark and ominous, like a lonely desert scene in the middle of the night, and the dream-like ‘Spider’ and ‘The Bleeding Whole’ are more transparently reflective and undeniably despondent and despairing, as is the backbone of this record and everything holding it together.

Don’t let the darkness of ‘Spark’ deter you – it is an elegantly beautiful album with a lot to say, both sonically and lyrically, and is really something quite magical indeed. TW

Physical release: 23 May