Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse
Dark Night of the Soul


4.0
excellent

Review

by Alex Silveri EMERITUS
July 19th, 2010 | 144 replies | 21,160 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Think about the world you love. Now think of where it wants to go.

The spirit of Death roams the Dark Night Of The Soul.

Profound, hey? But here’s the snag – not only is it true, it’s a truth that makes itself felt through every track on this legendary record. And again, another qualification: the legend is a subtle one, one less known for its music than its story, a story now well known around certain circles (those circles being the ones most likely to pretend to belong to circles). Still, it’s one worth repeating here. In 2006, up and comer producer extraordinaire Danger Mouse works with indie stalwarts Sparklehorse on a few tracks off Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain. The result is intriguing and the aforementioned circles start grinding the press. A proper Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse collaboration? Will it happen? A few years pass, then, in 2009, it happens. Sort of. A mock movie poster does the rounds, and the “cast list” goes something like this: Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse, David Lynch, The Flaming Lips, Julian Casablancas, Iggy Pop, Frank Black, and a few other Gods reside in this newly built pantheon. The circles spin wildly. And wait. And wait.

And wait. A hundred-page full colour photographic booklet later (courtesy of Lynch), it turns out that a dispute between Danger Mouse and EMI means that the Dark Night Of The Soul may very well remain shrouded in darkness, never to be released. So the artists do what anyone would do and release the album anyway, except with a blank CD-R in place of what would usually be a disc full of music. The inscription reads: “For legal reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will”. The wrangling goes on. On Christmas Day, 2009, Vic Chesnutt, collaborator, folk singer and paraplegic, dies from a drug overdose. The wrangling goes on. On March 6th, 2010, Mark Linkous, better known as Sparklehorse, shoots himself in the heart. Dark Night Of The Soul, they called this one. But it has at least, come to light. And through the tragedy, what remains, this testament, is a spiraling exercise in gorgeous music, a record knee deep in that subtle legend, but ankle up a collection of tunes as haunting and surreal as the personas and events that surrounded it.

Could Wayne Coyne really have imagined the unbearable resonance his lyrics on “Revenge” would have just a few months later, as he crooned through its slow strings and shallow beat: “I guess it's a matter of sensation/ But somehow you have a way of avoiding it all/ In my mind/ I have shot you and stabbed you through your heart”? Yet as overbearing as it all sounds, the Dark Night Of The Soul is still a record basked in warmth, playfulness even. How else to take the twinkling optimism of Gruff Rhys’ melodic swell across the Beatles-like “Just War”, even with lines like “Late September/ I heard the siren call a truce / But by December/ My head returned into the noose” – accompanied by a fractured summer whistle? Or the bright acoustic jangle of “Jaykub”? It’s this mix, this clash of the blossoming horizon of possibility together with angry realization of all that has-been, that provides the Dark Night Of The Soul with so much of it’s incredible power. Just listen to the way Iggy Pop forces his way through the angular guitar fuzz of “Pain” before throwing his arms up in a cry of “etcetera, I give up, I quit!”.

Nevertheless, not everything here is characterized by this stark contrast of light and dark, and as the record approaches its second half, it opens up and reaches out to an expanse far wider than its first impressions radiate. To paint a picture, “Star Eyes” finds Lynch himself warbling through a heart-tugging soundscape of psychedelic delight, while Jason Lytle wrestles with bittersweet tensions of casual sex on “Everytime I’m With You”. It’s a swath of songs that are eminently human, one which reaches it’s apogee on “Insane Lullaby”, a roughly cut diamond whose soaring strings and bright glockenspiel sparkle accompany perfectly James Mercer’s vivid weaving of images. And it’s here too, at the end, where the ghosts of the Dark Night Of The Soul find their voice, with Linkous finally making himself visible with the help of Nina Persson on the upbeat folk of “Daddy’s Gone”, and Chesnutt’s earthy vocals swimming over a lapping pool of 70s styled synthlines on “Grim Augury”. So with all said and sung, the Dark Night Of The Soul marks out a site of memory and beauty, a ground by which even in the half-hidden veil of its makers, there will always be the shining silver of music to look forward to.

4.2/5



In memory, Brandon Magnuson (Youaremysilence), February 9, 1993 - July 15, 2010.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Kiran
Emeritus
July 19th 2010



5992 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yes this is so good

"revenge" is a gem

Ponton
Emeritus
July 19th 2010



5775 Comments


another one from you so soon? no complaints here though, loved it

im enjoying some sparklehorse's other stuff so i might as well try this eventually

Digging: Mimicking Birds - Mimicking Birds

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
July 19th 2010



3752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I know right - two reviews in two weeks, I'm a writing machine. But yeah, I've been listening to this a ridiculous amount, so I figured why not.

And those ads...

Digging: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Days Of Abandon

plane
Staff Reviewer
July 19th 2010



6073 Comments


Alex, this is the best write-up I've read yet on this album. Beautiful all around.

As a side-note, both Lynch tracks are amongst my favorites. He's got a wicked sixth sense for pop music.

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
July 19th 2010



3752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah I absolutely adore Star Eyes actually, it makes me feel so happy. Then you listen to the lyrics (minimal as they are) and its just like woah. Can always count on you for love!

plane
Staff Reviewer
July 19th 2010



6073 Comments


I just realized I have this listed as Dangerhorse on my itunes

AggravatedYeti
July 19th 2010



7684 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I keep forgetting about this album :x

excellent as usual Alex, I'll be sure to pick this up soon.



Electric City
Staff Reviewer
July 19th 2010



15690 Comments


In memory, Brandon Magnuson (Youaremysilence), February 9, 1993 - July 15, 2010.


whoa what

Digging: Nmesh - Dream Sequins [AMDISCS]

Enotron
July 19th 2010



7695 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

you didn't hear about it, adam?

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
July 19th 2010



15690 Comments


just read about it im stunned and quite frankly deeply saddened

Enotron
July 19th 2010



7695 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

he was an incredibly sweet guy and I also find myself quite upset about the news.

btw this is a brilliantly written review

joshuatree
Emeritus
July 19th 2010



3743 Comments


ridiculous review. never wanted to listen to this before now.

also didn't know david lynch was all that involved besides the picture part, awesome

joshuatree
Emeritus
July 19th 2010



3743 Comments


In memory, Brandon Magnuson (Youaremysilence), February 9, 1993 - July 15, 2010.


wait what happened

nvm just found out =(

Gyromania
July 19th 2010



14641 Comments


Such a shame, rest in piece. Excellent write-up, Alex, one of the best reviews I've read in a while.

wachooo
July 19th 2010



121 Comments


Their name makes me shit my pants.

jcfiasco
July 19th 2010



465 Comments


great review.
I was on the fence about buying this but you swayed me for sure.
Thaaanks

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
July 19th 2010



3752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I did last night from Amazon. $70. So painful. But I tell myself it's worth it.

Awesomesauce
July 20th 2010



1083 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Super excellent review. Will check this out now.

sgrevs
July 20th 2010



698 Comments


Song with Julian Casablancas is awesome. Nice review.

viewerslikeyou
July 20th 2010



33 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

was going to be a 3.5, but David Lynch's hairdo took it up to a 4.



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