Giant Sand's Haunted Harmony
D., Spence, Guitar Player
Since their inception in 1980, most of Giant Sand's records have been recorded in non-traditional "studios," like old barns and the living rooms of adobes in their adopted hometown of Tucson, Arizona. The group's disheveled, countrified indie-rock reflects those rustic settings, much as their latest album, GLUM [Imago], reflects its birthplace: a mansion in New Orleans' French Quarter owned by producer Daniel Lanois. "The record sounds very much like the house," says singer/guitarist/pianist Howe Gelb. "It was dark, dank, really ancient, and of course it was haunted."
With the recording console set up in the living room, the band played with no baffles or headphones, and called on any number of odd guitars. "My newest is a Lark," Gelb relates. "The headstock is totally mother-of-pearl. It has three f-holes--and the third one is right next to the neck, which doesn't make any sense, but it's wonderful. It's like playing raw lumber." Of the strange, pulpy tone produced by his 19 10 Bruno nylon-string, Gelb comments, "What it is is what it is, and if you don't hear it, then you're not supposed to. …