Various Artists
Desert Sessions 9 & 10
/island; 2003/




I won’t try here, as an introduction, to explain what the Desert Sessions concept is. Let’s say that it’s an upstream meta-musical entity initiated by M Josh Homme & co. The idea is to invite other musicians on this free wheeling albums. On this one : PJ Harvey, Marilyn Manson escapee Twiggy Ramirez and Dean Ween. Add QOTSA's thunderous drummer Joey Castillo and Troy Van Leeuwen, as well as 'Desert Sessions' staples Chris Goss, Dave Catching and Alain Johannes, and you have the makings of something very serious indeed.

For further acknowledgment visit the family tree on But let’s face it: the Desert Sessions are not only a branch of the tree. 

Surprisingly enough, the heady riff which carries the energy of the opening track ‘Dead Is Love’ reminds me of Neil Young’s Mirrorball. It’s not an easy thing to explain, so I hope you’ll get the point without further explanation. Jove! That Josh Homme! What a voice. So innocently masculine and mellow, uncomplicated and yet appealing. This song is one of the closest to the QOTSA spirit. ‘I wanna Make it wiit chu’ sounds like a laid back version of ‘Go with the flow’, sitting down during rehearsals and relaxing by covering oneself with self detachment and grace. ‘Covered in punks blood’ is copyright Mike Patton Style. ‘I am here for your daughter’ is pitifully only 45 seconds long. The acoustic guitar cannot be played by someone human, so fast, so well designed. ‘In my head’ is purely QOTSA style. What should I say? Or should I go?

(sorry for that, but I could not reasonably prevent my stupid brain to think of it. Apologies.)

‘A girl like me’ has a New York quality I am not sure I can grasp fully. I’ll leave the PJ Harvey songs to M Wood anyway. ‘Creosote’ reminds me of Led Zeppelin’s acoustic songs. It’s an instrumental, nothing really heartbreaking. ‘Subcutaneous plant’ develops itself around a traditional Nick Oliveri style bass line but this one is weak in the end.

Listening the whole thing in a row makes me realize that there are some weaknesses on this un-commercial album so I guess fanatics will love it all the more.

Better safe than sorry? It’s up to you.

-Angus ‘much too stone to remember’ Anderson


I don’t know how they record their Desert Sessions. They must get bored pretty quickly in the desert surrounded by sand, cactuses and rattle snakes, stifled by the heat but is it really a valid argument to justify the making of such a long album?? Desert sessions 9 & 10 starts off excellently but clearly becomes dull and even contains highly superfluous, if not repellent tracks (‘subterraneous plant’, ‘shepherd’s pie’). ‘Dead in Love’ and ‘I wanna make it with you’ will hopefully be released again on the next QOTSA album, especially the latter which is a great laid-back Neil Young-esque song thanks to its rhythm and its southern backing vocals. ‘In my head’ is the catchy hit of the album and it will certainly make it to the airwaves if released under the manly QOTSA banner.

Anyway, I’m here to comment on PJ Harvey’s participation. She might have got sick while travelling. Not only she had to put up with the jetlag but she had to overcome the weather’s change. The 4 song collaboration between QOTSA and PJ Harvey is somehow disappointing. It results in a tense and poisonous atmosphere smelling alcohol and other illicit substances, an unwholesome atmosphere reminiscent of Queen Adreena and subsequently Daisy Chainsaw in ‘Crawl Home’ and ‘A girl like Me’, even if PJ Harvey’s particular voice does not undergo any metamorphose. This might explain the disappointment generated by this collaboration. ‘There will never be a better time’ sounds like an acoustic song PJ Harvey could have down on her own while ‘Pondered big machine’ somehow echoes ‘C’mon Billy’ because of her vocal delivery (the music being alien to both parties). In fact, ‘Crawl home’ is the only song that really mingles Homme and Oliveri’s thick sound with Harvey’s voice, mingles the two idiosyncratic styles, ‘A girl like me’ being a good song but not endowed with this thick sound I’ve just referred to.

SEB ‘stoneface’ WOOd

PS: The front sleeve is ugly…

/jan 15th 2004/