Chilean born Alain Johannes is a man who you’ve probably never heard of, but have no doubt heard in some capacity. As a producer for bands like Live, or as session muso for Silverchair and Kelly Clarkson, or through his involvement in every Josh Homme project ever recorded, Johannes has been in and around the studio since 1984, but it took the devastating loss of his wife and musical partner, Natasha Schneider, for Alain Johannes to record his debut LP, Spark.
Serving as a thirty-minute catharsis for Johannes’ torment, the content of this record is a heavy listen. From the opening salvo Endless Eyes, he confides “It’s killing me that I must go on living.” and at times, Spark feels intrusive, like sitting on silently in his personal therapy-session, but the way his grief is expressed is astonishing. His classical flamenco and middle-eastern guitar skills, exemplified in songs like Make God Jealous, Speechless and lead single Endless Eyes are the focal point of every song, but his voice, sorrowful and pained, seems the perfect compliment, regardless of the undeniable similarity of the vocal phrasing that shows the amount of time spent in the studio with both Josh Homme and Mark Lanegan over the years.
Released on Homme’s label, Rekords Rekords, the Queens of the Stone Age front man said of Spark “It really jaw-dropped me because I’ve never heard anyone sing and play like that”. And you know what? I agree, Josh. It’s an emotional confessional without becoming maudlin and a record that will ‘jaw-drop’ a lot more people very soon.