Sounds like: One cubic yard of Delta swampland—mud, crickets, humid air and all—encased in a Plexiglas shell.
For fans of: U2, Bob Dylan, Eno, gumbo, mojo.
Latest release: His band Black Dub's self-titled debut (2010).
Why you care: When U2 hired Brian Eno to help mature its sound on The Unforgettable Fire, Eno brought along his co-producer, guitarist Daniel Lanois. The two have collaborated on every subsequent U2 album (except Pop). Lanois' swampy-but-smooth ambience has been in demand ever since, yielding career-transforming, Grammy-garnering discs like Peter Gabriel's So, Emmylou Harris' Wrecking Ball, and the Neville Brothers' Yellow Moon. On Bono's initial recommendation, Bob Dylan hired Lanois to produce 1989's Oh Mercy and, later, 1997's Time Out of Mind. Dylan devotes a chapter of his book, Chronicles, to his contentious but fruitful working relationship with Lanois, calling the producer's soundscape "texturally rich, jet lagged and loaded—Quaaludes, misty...cooked in a pot like a gumbo...dreamy and ambiguous." Neil Young even titled his and Lanois' recent collaboration, Le Noise, in tribute. Lanois appears Feb. 3 with his moody Black Dub project, featuring impossibly dextrous drummer Brian Blade, N'awlins bassist Daryl Johnson and the powerful pipes of Tricia Whitley (daughter of Lanois' discovery, doomed bluesman Chris Whitley). While the band lacks the transcendent songwriting of Lanois' clientele, his signature sound is unmistakable. Future musicologists will need to coin the term "Lanoisian." Wait a minute—I just did.
SEE IT: Daniel Lanois' Black Dub plays the Aladdin Theater on Thursday, Feb. 3, with Rocco Deluca. 8 pm. $22 advance, $25 day of show. All ages (minors must be accompanied by a parent).