Exclusive First Listen: Danger Mouse And Sparklehorse Team Up With David Lynch
Hear The Year's Most Mysterious Album In Its Entirety, Before Its Official Release
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NPR.org, June 14, 2009 - When the first cryptic bits of news about Dark Night of the Soul began trickling in earlier this year, it all sounded too good to be true. Though the whole project was shrouded in mystery, it appeared that Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous, two of the most inspired artists making music today, were collaborating on a new album. That alone was enough to get our geek gears spinning with excitement. But there was an unusual twist that few of us at NPR Music could make sense of: Director David Lynch was somehow involved.
It all started back in March, at the South by Southwest music festival and conference. A number of us on the NPR Music team had noticed strange posters around downtown Austin, Texas, that read "Dark Night of the Soul." They looked like movie posters and had David Lynch's name on them, alongside names of some of our favorite artists, like Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse, Vic Chesnutt, Jason Lytle and more. We wondered if it was some sort of musical film.
Soon after our Austin trip, NPR Music received copies of the mysterious posters in the mail. No return address. Someone was messing with us. I tried to find out more, but had zero success. Then, weeks later, I finally got a note from a publicist with all the details we'd been waiting for.
It turns out Dark Night Of The Soul is an album and the songs were written by Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse (Mark Linkous), though the myriad singers featured on each track also had a big hand in composing and producing the work. The album was initially going to be packaged with a book of photos taken by David Lynch. But now there's word that the music may never be officially released at all.
An unnamed spokesperson for Danger Mouse says that "due to an ongoing dispute with EMI" the book of photographs will "now come with a blank, recordable CD-R. All copies will be clearly labeled: 'For legal reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will.'" While offering no specifics, EMI has acknowledged the legal dispute with Danger Mouse and released a statement saying, "Danger Mouse is a brilliant, talented artist for whom we have enormous respect. We continue to make every effort to resolve this situation and we are talking to Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) directly. Meanwhile, we need to reserve our rights."
You can order the book, sans music, from the official Dark Night Of The Soul Web site. In the meantime, you can hear the entire album here on NPR Music as an Exclusive First Listen.
I've listened to the record all the way through at least a dozen times, and can confirm that Dark Night of the Soul delivers in every way you'd hope for. It's beautiful but haunting, surreal and dark, but sometimes comical and affecting, with ear-popping, multilayered production work. It just gets more mesmerizing with every listen.
In addition to Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse (Mark Linkous), other artists appearing on Dark Night of the Soul include James Mercer of The Shins, The Flaming Lips, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, Frank Black of the Pixies, Iggy Pop, Nina Persson of The Cardigans, Suzanne Vega, Vic Chesnutt, David Lynch, and Scott Spillane of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Gerbils.