Saturday, 19 September 2009

Album: “Dark Night Of The Soul” by Sparklehorse / Danger Mouse / David Lynch

This is a bit of a curio. Sparklehorse is really Mark Linkous, but he prefers not to use his name for some reason. Sparklehorse is an example of the Americana that I love, with songs alternating between reflective ruminants of love accompanied by pedal steel or violin and then followed by angry songs of hate accompanied by thrashy guitar and end of the world drums.

Latest albums have been a bit of a disappointment, though, as he seems to have found some sort of contentment and has generally dialled down the anger

(As an aside: a number of years ago he was a drug addict and collapsed with his legs trapped underneath him. He was found and straightened out (his body, not his addictions – that came later), but all the toxins that had developed in the legs promptly caused a fatal heart attack. Luckily he survived, but at the expense of spending six months wheelchair bound…and it did make for his albums to be rather angrier for a while. Fact: This is why you have to release a tourniquet every 10 minutes if you ever have massive blood loss from a limb. See, helpful advice as well).

I did once drag Paul along to see him at the Hop and Grape bar and I recall him being impressed with the small woman alternating between violin and then thrashy guitar. Also being impressed that he downed a bottle of Jack Daniels through the course of the set (Sparklehorse, not Paul obviously. It was a school night).

So he got together with the producer Danger Mouse to make essentially the same sort of album, but with lots of guest singers. So you get singer from Flaming Lips, girl from the Cardigans, Iggy Pop (guess which type of song he sings?), Black Francis, Vic Chesnutt, singer from Super Furries, singer from The Strokes, singer from The Shins and others. They then roped in David Lynch (yes, Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet David Lynch) to do artwork and sing on one of the tracks. They then presented it to the record company…who refused to release it.

So what to do? Here, luckily, Danger Mouse has form. A number of years ago he did a mash up of The Beatles “White Album” and Jay-Zed’s “Black Album”. The record companies – or just possibly their lawyers - didn’t like the idea of that one little bit and sat on it. So he leaked it to the interweb where it can be downloaded from any number of sites. Possibly remembering this, last month the three of them released a limited edition book of photographs “inspired” by the songs. The book also had a blank CD-R with the message “you know what to do”.

Not being arsed about buying the book, but having a pretty good idea “what to do”, I quickly found the files.

What’s it like? First song “Revenge” is the best of the lot (maybe Paul can find and attach a link?) with the most in tune singing I’ve ever heard from Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips). Sort of “Do You Realise” meets “Glory Box” by Portishead. The rest of the album mines a fairly similar reflective seam, save for the more noisy Iggy stuff (see, you guessed correct). The frequent changes in singer does kind of detract from a coherent whole, but that’s probably a good thing as far as the MP3 generation are concerned.

Why hasn’t the album been released? No idea, but Ricky Pedia says that there is some ongoing dispute with EMI. It’s certainly a good enough album to merit a release, but it doesn’t really matter as, “you know what to do” (if you can be arsed).

Rating 7/11


  1. 'end of the world drums' really?

    oh and the mp3 police have suspended my account bastards and I'm onto a work around. I'll put the song up once I've stabbed their eyes out. Nice tune but the singing is a bit iffy, could do with a gong or two on it :-))

  2. I'd quite like to hear this one Andy, and the Grey Album too. Please could you stick them on that hard drive.

    Who are the MP3 police?

  3. Will do. I've also stuck 10GB of my itunes stuff on there as well (that should cause apoplexy with the MP3 police - lucky this is anonymous).

    NOT Andy