Release Date: Jul 13, 2010
Record label: Capitol
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Dark Night of the Soul is a collaboration between Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse, with David Lynch adding musical contributions as well as a complementary 100-page book of original photography. It features appearances, vocally and otherwise, from the Flaming Lips, Jason Lytle (formerly of Grandaddy), Suzanne Vega, Iggy Pop, Black Francis, Vic Chesnutt, James Mercer of the Shins, Gruff Rhys of the Super Furry Animals, and Julian Casablancas of the Strokes. That’s the good news.
Tragedy-shrouded instant classic escapes lawyers’ clutches Recorded in 2009 as part of a multimedia project devised by Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse (née Mark Linkous) and filmmaker David Lynch, Dark Night of the Soul was shelved for more than a year as EMI and Danger Mouse proprietor Brian Burton resolved legal differences that still haven’t been fully disclosed. The controversy nearly obscured the resounding triumph of the album itself; written and produced by Burton and Linkous, it’s a breathtaking set of atmospheric ballads (plus a few rockers) that explore cosmic concerns, from the self-destructive trap of revenge to the possibility of spiritual renewal. Danger Mouse’s spooky signature sound—a mix of shimmering keyboards, fuzzy echo and squiggly ambient noises—provides a mesmerizing backdrop for guest vocalists including Iggy Pop (the roaring “Pain”), the Shins’ James Mercer (the Beatlesque “Insane Lullaby”) and Lynch (the creepy title track), among others.
Long embroiled in legal issues, this unique collaborative project is now a posthumous official release following this year's tragic suicides of both Mark Linkous, aka Sparklehorse, and contributor Vic Chesnutt. With a cast (everyone from David Lynch to Iggy Pop) reading like a fantasy pop group, Gruff Rhys brings trademark wistfulness to the gorgeous Just War, while the Julian Casablancas-sung Little Girl could be a 21st-century Doors. The Flaming Lips capture the album title's mood on the stunning Pink Floydy Revenge, although elsewhere – especially on Pop's gloriously vamped-up Pain – things sound more playful than haunted.
Completed since 2009 but blocked by EMI, this all-star multimedia collaboration between producer Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse), songwriter Mark Linkous (aka Sparklehorse) and a throng of high-calibre guest vocalists (Iggy Pop, David Lynch and Julian Casablancas, to name a few) is finally seeing a proper release. [rssbreak] There's much of the collaborators' individuality on each track - Wayne Coyne's Revenge, for instance, harkens back to Soft Bulletin-era Flaming Lips - but the album's eerie psych-pop reflects the best of Sparklehorse. Burton has warned us not to interpret Dark Night Of The Soul against the backdrop of Linkous's recent suicide, but given the album's bleak existentialist lyrics, it's difficult not to project an extra layer of melancholy.
Dark Night of the Soul is a record with much backstory. To recap: following a legal dispute last year with EMI, the 'record' was released as a 100-page book with a blank CD labelled 'Use it as you will'. The music had leaked by that point, so that's pretty much an endorsement... However, that wasn't the end, as you are surely aware.
The Dark Night of the Soul, a term coined by the 17th century Spanish mystic Saint John of the Cross, describes a point in a pious Christian's life when they are unable to reconcile their relationship to God, and take painful steps to purify themselves. Mark Linkous-- better known as Sparklehorse-- would seem to understand something about trials and endurance. If any current performer has endured traumatic, life-altering experiences-- an early-1990s overdose that damaged his legs and almost killed him, several years in and out of states of severe depression and addiction-- while retaining an optimistic disposition, it's him.
Though Dark Night of the Soul -- a collaboration featuring songs written and produced by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous accompanied by David Lynch's photography -- was supposed to come out in 2009, a legal dispute between Danger Mouse and EMI delayed its release by over a year. By the time Dark Night officially saw the light of day, Linkous and another of the project’s players, singer/songwriter Vic Chesnutt, were dead. This could have cast a morbid shadow over the entire enterprise, but at its best, the album is a tribute to the collaborative spirit of everyone involved.
Collaboration between Danger Mouse and the late Mark Linkous sees the light of day. Alistair Lawrence 2010 No Danger Mouse project arrives without at least some slight commotion. In the case of Dark Night of the Soul, it involves a familiar-sounding dust up with EMI that recalls the dispute that ultimately led to the producer’s Grey Album of 2004 never being officially released.
M.I.A.“/\/\/\Y/\”(N.E.E.T./XL/Interscope) “You know who I am,” Maya Arulpragasam, or M.I.A, raps in “Steppin Up” on her third album, titled to be read as “Maya.” One song later, in “XXXO,” she sings, “You want me be somebody who I’m really not.”. She’s right on both ….
Dark Night of the Soul arrives with a spooky, haunting mystique worthy of “Gloomy Sunday,” the Depression-Era Hungarian ballad that supposedly drove its listeners to suicide. This Danger Mouse (Brian Burton)/Sparklehorse (Mark Linkous) collaboration was supposed to come out last year, but a legal dispute delayed it. Between then and now, Linkous killed himself – as did Vic Chesnutt, one of the project’s many guest vocalists.