With the release of her first two albums — 2016’s Sirens and 2018’s Empty Sea — Berlin-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and photographer Laura Carbone received attention across the European Union and elsewhere for a sound and approach that frequently draws comparisons to PJ Harvey, Shana Falana, Chelsea Wolfe, St. Vincent and others.
While opening for The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Carbone and her backing band quickly established a reputation for a powerful live show, which she further cemented with a headlining tours across the European Union and North America. (If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past couple of years, you might recall that I caught Carbone when she played Baby’s All Right back in 2019. A lifetime ago, it seems.)
As the story goes, Carbone and her backing band were slated to go into the studio last May to record what would be her highly-anticipated, third album. But as a result of pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, Carbone’s plans were indefinitely shelved at the time, much like countless other artists across the globe. While she was touring across the European Union, Carbone and her band made an appearance on the beloved German live concert series Rockpalast. For Carbone, who grew up in a small, southwestern German town watching Rockpaalst as a music obsessed youth, appearing on the show was the achievement of a lifelong dream: Rockpalast has recorded and broadcasted a who’s who list of influential and important artists, including Siouxsie and The Banshees, Radiohead, Sonic Youth, Patti Smith, Sinead O’Connor, David Bowie, R.E.M., Echo and the Bunnymen, Screaming Trees, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Marley and the Wailers and a very lengthy list of others.
Because of pandemic-related shutdowns, Carbone and her band came up with an interesting idea: “What if Rockpalast would let us release that show as a live album?” Released last fall across Europe and today across North America, Laura Carbone — Live at Rockpalast is just that. Taken from her October 2019 Rockpalast set at Harmonie Bonn, the live album is a centered around a career-spanning set featuring material from her first two albums and a rather unexpected cover. Hewing as closely as humanly possible to their live sound, the album was mixed by in Los Angeles by The Jesus and Mary Chain‘s Scott Van Ryper and mastered by Philipp Welsing at Hamburg‘s Original Mastering with no overdubs.
So far I’ve written about two of Laura Carbone — Live at Rockpalast‘s singles:
- “Who’s Gonna Save You,” which captures Catrbone and her band’s forceful live sound and the Berlin-based artist’s irresistible stage presence. And while the song finds the band deftly balancing menace and sultriness, the song should serve as an introduction to an artist, who has quickly added her name to a growing list of rock goddesses.
- “Cellophane Skin:” Performed as the first song of the set’s encore, the live rendition finds Carbone and company taking the tension of the original and informing with a feral intensity developed while touring. And as a result, the song finds its narrator — and perhaps, even the artist herself — turning into a seductive, yet vengeful force of nature tearing down the bonds of poisonous social norms that have imprisoned her, while demanding that we — men particularly so — examine and check ourselves.
Laura Carbone — Live at Rockpalast’s third and latest single “Nightride” is a slow-burning and brooding bit of psychedelia-tinged post punk that sonically and lyrically nods at The Doors “The End” as though covered by PJ Harvey. Full of dark and uneasy imagery including a full moon on a clear night, a dark yet irresistible stranger, a road trip through the forest, sporadically lit by the moonlight and headlights, the song thematically is an existential journey — to the dark and murky depths of a human soul, to something and/or someone.
The recently released visual continues Carbone’s ongoing collaboration with Olya Dyer, split between gorgeously cinematic footage of the Harmonie Bonn set and haunting footage of Carbone shot on a moonlit night last mont in a forest just outside of Berlin, where perhaps some bodies may actually be buried. The visual’s dark and handsome strange is Dyer’s spouse Craig Dyer, the frontman of The Underground Youth.
BERLIN, GERMANY (JULY 19, 2021) — A full moon. A clear, dark night, a darker stranger. A long ride down a long road through the forest, lit up only sporadically by the headlights as she steers through the snaky curves. The perfect spot and the perfect time for the perfect crime. Perfect. Sublime. Laura Carbone’s “Nightride” is an existentialist ride to the great nowhere. A journey through the dark depths of the soul, a hunt. For something, for some thing, someone. To satisfy a yearning, a hunger. A lust? For something. For someone. A mission unspoken, unspeakable perhaps, with a beginning and an end, but no particular destination. “Soft and slow, the river flows”, the song winds through the dark forest of desire tingling just below the skin, stalking an elusive prey, unhurried, deliberate, at the pace of a heartbeat. There will be contact. But who’s the hunter, and who’s the prey? It’s hard to know. It’s always hard to know, isn’t it? Sometimes the tables turn. And sometimes, hunter and prey join forces, to hunt bigger game. This live single version of “Nightride” celebrates the official North American physical release of Laura Carbone’s latest album, “Laura Carbone – Live at Rockpalast”, recorded in October of 2019 on the heels of her September coast-to-coast “Empty Sea” tour of the US and Canada, and only a couple of months before the unforeseen dystopian boredom and paralysis of lockdown. The live video footage is from the same concert, simulcast nationwide and across Europe on TV and online worldwide on Germany’s prestigious “Rockpalast” live music television show, a pillar of live music broadcasting for over 30 years that has documented monumental performances by David Bowie, Patti Smith, Radiohead, Van Morrison, Sonic Youth, Einstürzende Neubauten, Smashing Pumpkins…you get the idea. The additional footage was conceived by Laura and her longtime partner in graphics and video crime, The Underground Youth drummer and acclaimed graphic artist Olya Dyer. Olya directed and shot it all on a dark, moonlit night in June 2021 in a forest outside Berlin where all the bodies are surely buried. And the dark stranger? That’s none other than Olya’s husband Craig Dyer, enigmatic singer and frontman of The Underground Youth. Laura and Craig also have a bittersweet surprise coming up in the autumn. But more about that later, all in good time. At the pace of a heartbeat.