ROCCO DELUCA at the Rivoli (332 Queen West), Wednesday (September 10). $13.50. RT, SS, TF.
It's hard to tell what you're hearing on Rocco DeLuca's self-titled fourth album (released last month on 429 Records). You can hear the California songwriter's shimmering falsetto on top of his dobro and lap-steel, augmented by guitar, drums, strings and electronics. It's back-porch, soulful blues and gospel meet futuristic alt-rock.
The surprising thing is that there aren't actually any keyboards or synthesizers on the record.
"That's your Canadian comrade [producer] Daniel Lanois," DeLuca explains, back on the grid in Nashville after a few nights camping under the stars in Kentucky. "He's invented his own sounds by manipulating guitars and voices. Those are new sounds that no one's heard before, ever - that's what I'm so proud about. Those are sounds that have been brewed over and woodshedded by a scientist for quite a while."
DeLuca met the Canadian producer/musician almost a decade ago; Lanois also produced his second solo album, 2009's Mercy.
This time around, DeLuca recorded at his home studio in East L.A. - where he says he records stuff every day - before bringing the tapes up to Lanois's west-end Toronto studio for "performance mixing."
"He would perform the mix as if he was playing an instrument," says DeLuca. "It was really stunning to watch. He has an emotional swing while he mixes."
Their collaboration runs deep: DeLuca also lent his voice to Lanois's upcoming experimental album, Flesh And Machine (out this fall on Anti-). The two albums even share the same version of the song Two Bushes, a meditative electronic piece Lanois worked out of DeLuca's voice and guitar playing.
Lanois has a tendency to show up at DeLuca's Toronto shows when he's in town (as he did recently at the Belljar) and this week's Rivoli show should be no exception. "If he's around, he always comes up and plays with me," says DeLuca. "But he might be doing his own trip at that time.
"He's an old pirate, and I like the way he runs his outfit. He's tough, and he's also very kind and beautiful - those are qualities I like in people and their art."