File under first (and strong) impressions:
That small group of people you might have seen pinching themselves on Tuesday night in Silver Lake were the invitees to an intimate listening party for Neil Young’s new album, “Le Noise” (due Sept. 28). The party was at the lakeview manse of Daniel Lanois, and both the host and his home play starring roles in the 64-year-old legend’s new work.
“Le Noise” is audacious and loud and trippy and layered and blunt and, unless you arbitrarily discriminate against the AARP generation, the best 38 minutes you will have spent in quite some time.
No truth to the joke that “Lanois” is Québécois for “crazier horse,” but the Canadian-born, L.A.-based producer – whose credits include U2, Bob Dylan, Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Emmylou Harris and Willie Nelson – has on this new album fashioned a massive, soundscapey netherworld for Young’s new songs. The vocals, steeped in reverb, seem poured out of pitcher; noises are looped and warped to frame the guitarist’s signature riffage; the songs are unblinking as ever, especially the biographical “Hitchhiker.” Amid a roar as powerful as Young has ever mustered, he takes a couplet by couplet look back on his own life, and the results are moving.
“Le Noise” does have some of the elements of Young’s vocoder-addled 1982 detour “Trans,” but Lanois said afterward he’d never heard that record. He allowed as how he was just going for “the commodity that we all got into rock ’n’ roll for, and that’s authenticity.”
Oh, and did I mention the movie?
Get your Blu-Ray ready. There’s an accompanying movie – highly stylized, with Lanois’ amazing house playing co-conspirator – for “Le Noise.” It’s footage of Young delivering his vocal performances, but that’s selling it short. The way it is lit (starkly) and set (an almost haunted-house vibe) and colored (mostly black-and-white), Young is cast as the giant he is.
For those of you into song titles: 1 Walk With Me, 2 Sign of Love, 3 Rescue Me, 4 Love And War, 5 Angry World, 6 Hitchhiker, 7 Peaceful Vally Blvd., 8 Rumblin’.