What do you get when you combine one of the most prolific producers of hip-hop and pop with one of the most tortured musicians of this decade and then sprinkle it with one of the strangest artists of our time? A project that was lost and then found again by way of record label red tape and has all the essential elements to present a "Dark Night Of The Soul"......
In 2006, Mark Linkous-- better known as Sparklehorse, brought on super producer Brian Joseph Burton--better known as Dangermouse a.k.a. Gnarls Barkley a.k.a. Broken Bells-- to contribute to his "Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain" album which brought new color and direction to Mark's quiet and solitary vocal style. The two worked so well together that a bond was forged and a mutual promise was made to collaborate on something fresh for the future. It ended up as "Dark Night of the Soul," bringing together more than a handful of seasoned musical collaborators as well as David Lynch, who signed on to create a 100-page book of original photography inspired by the music. Now one would think a project like this would make any record executive salivate, but sadly it became the victim of corporate greed and was shelved due to some sort of mysterious copyright claim from EMI, who already had beef with Dangermouse over his "Grey Album" in 2004 which mashed Jay-Z's "Black Album" with The Beatles "White Album" and was leaked like Niagara Falls on the internet. So now 4 long years and many lawsuits later, this cinematic and unique album that ingeniously balances its contributors' vocals with the overall theme of the work, finally gets to see the light of day.
Built more like a 4-part revue than a narrative concept album, it opens with the track "Revenge" where Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips matches Mark's vocal register on a psychedelic ballad about practicing what you preach, which blends right into "Just War," an alt-country fuzz festival with Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals taking the vocal reins. In the second, decidedly harder movement, heavy hitters Black Francis of The Pixies and Iggy Pop join the journey with the grinding "Angels Harp" and then "Pain" which has Iggy doing his best croon on the subject, of which he is more than familiar. Then in the third movement we see the album shift back to a psychedelic tone with an ode to hanging out and feeling good featuring Jason Lytle of Grandaddy called "Everytime I'm With You," which also sets the stage for the amazing string-laden Lynch piece titled "Star Eyes (I Can Catch It)" that reminds you just how far David can drift off into the heavens and beyond. James Mercer of The Shins rounds out this section with "Insane Lullaby," one of the best cuts on the album where his Linkous style vocals drift in an ocean of strings and bells but seems to belong there through the whole cut. The final section is definitely the journey home for the project as Mark returns to his alt/country pop persona (that he denies but does so well) on the track "Daddy's Gone" featuring Nina Persson, formerly of the Cardigans and then hands the ending over to Vic Chesnutt with "Grim Augury" and the dark Lynch-featuring title track, "Dark Night Of The Soul."
All in all, this album is much like a classic play with all the musical actors taking the stage at their appointed part backed by scene manipulation of Lynch and the directors of Dangermouse and Sparklehorse pulling the strings from the darkened sides of the stage. It tells a story but leaves it up to the listener to put the actual words on paper, content in sparking imagination and inspiration it plays out like many Lynch films.....you aren't sure what happened but you know you liked it. Destined to be a classic, "Dark Night Of The Soul" was released in the nick of time as it is the perfect soundtrack to take you on a journey through Autumn, where the nights come earlier everyday and with Halloween on the horizon everyone's soul gets a little darker.
This is a really good album. I've been a fan of Sparklehorse for many years and will miss Mark. Need to play come catch-up on Dangermouse.
Yeah, it's nice when you get an all-star team and it comes out right, sometimes albums like this can suffer from too many cooks in the kitchen but this was was just right!
I have been a fan of Dangermouse for years, make sure to check out his album with Gemini from waaaaay back and of course his Gnarls Barkley stuff.....I personally have some catch-up to do with Sparklehorse!
Thanks for this recommendation! I'm finally listening to this album as I do my weekend housework. Love it!