Saturday, July 11, 2009

Listening to Music

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

Sparkle Lynch Mouse 300

From left: David Lynch, Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse.

More First Listens, 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.

Firefighter Shoots Dogs to Avoide Boarding Them

Ohio Man Faces Jail Time for Killing Dogs

posted: 2 DAYS 17 HOURS AGO
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (July 8) - An Ohio firefighter faces jail time and may lose his job for shooting his two dogs to death rather than pay to board them while he went on a cruise.
Columbus firefighter David P. Santuomo, 43, took Sloopy and Skeeter to his home's basement, suspended them from a pipe near the ceiling and fired at least 11 shots from a .22-caliber rifle fitted with a homemade silencer, Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Ron J. O'Brien said.

Santuomo then wrapped the carcasses in plastic and dumped them in a trash bin behind Firehouse 27, where he worked, O'Brien said.
"This is pretty heinous," said Cheri Miller, spokeswoman for the Capital Area Humane Society, which carried out a search warrant in Santuomo's home. The humane society has limited law enforcement powers in Franklin County.
Santuomo pleaded guilty in June to two misdemeanor counts of improperly killing a companion animal and a felony count of possession of a criminal tool. Santuomo had fashioned a makeshift silencer by taping a 2-liter soda bottle to the end of the rifle. The incident happened in December.
Miller said appalled fellow firefighters turned Santuomo in to authorities.
"There were reports that he was bragging about this," she said.
Santuomo initially told investigators the dogs had ingested antifreeze and he killed them to put them out of their misery, Miller said. However, after necropsies showed the dogs were not poisoned, the firefighter admitted shooting them because he couldn't afford to board them, she said. Public records show Santuomo has twice filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and underwent a home foreclosure in 2003.
The Columbus Division of Fire has received more than 2,000 outraged e-mails and calls from the public, said Battalion Chief David Whiting, the department's spokesman.
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"People are not very happy," he said. "We had people say they should do to him what he's done to the dogs. A lot of people want him fired. They don't want him coming into their house. They're worried about their animals; they're worried about their kids. They'd just as soon let their house burn down if he shows up."
The Division of Fire has concluded an internal investigation, including interviews with Santuomo, Whiting said. The report now goes to Fire Chief Ned Pettus Jr., who will schedule a disciplinary hearing. Punishment, if any, could range from a verbal reprimand to firing, Whiting said. With appeals and possible arbitration, the whole process could take a month or more, he said.
In the meantime, Santuomo is working in the division's fire alarm office, "where he is not dealing face to face with the public," Whiting said. If he remains employed with the fire division, he will return to his regular assignment, though that could bring a new set of challenges, Whiting added.
"If someone did this that worked next to you at work, how would you feel about working with him?" Whiting asked. "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. ... There are a lot of options."
Santuomo has only minor disciplinary matters, such as tardiness, in his record, Whiting said.

Santuomo was sentenced to 90 days in jail, to be served in 10-day increments over the next two years. He also has to pay $4,500 in restitution, perform 200 hours of community service, stay away from companion animals for five years and write a letter of apology to be published in the local newspaper and the International Association of Firefighters magazine, the humane society's Miller said.
Santuomo's attorney said that his client is remorseful over his actions and that people need to temper their outrage. "It's the same old story. They couldn't care less about people and they love animals," lawyer Sam Shamansky said.
The firefighter, who could not be reached for comment, has no criminal history other than traffic violations, Shamansky said.
"It, of course, was a heinous act, and it's an act for which he's sorry and has accepted responsibility," Shamansky said of the dog killings. "He's been punished appropriately, and I think it's now time for the public to practice what they preach and show a little forgiveness and mercy. Maybe that might be a novel approach."
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2009-07-08 16:20:03