First thing is first. Mark Linkous is one of musical heros. Listening to this record has been difficult at times to deal with because of his death earlier this year. That might sound a little silly given that I didn’t know him. I guess with music and literature and art though, people you don’t know touch your heart and impact on your life in some pretty serious ways. Linkous is one of those people for me. Add in the amazing Vic Chesnutt to the mix on this record and the whole thing takes on a whole new level of sadness, which has made the record both a wonderful yet difficult listen.
Anyways, there’s an interesting story behind the making of this record. One part of this story is just how Mark Linkous and Danger Mouse came to work together. Apparently, in 2005 Linkous was in the grips of one of many bouts of depression (the illness which eventually killed him – please support Depression Alliance UK HERE). In a bid to draw him out of the darkness, friends started to give him records to listen to, music being a healer and all. One particular record, a record by Danger Mouse grabbed his musical ears and ultimately ended up with Danger Mouse producing a number of tracks on the final Sparklehorse studio album ‘Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain’.
The second part of the story is how, having gathered together an all star cast of vocalists for this project including Wayne Coyne, Jason Lytle, James Mercer, Black Francis, Iggy Pop, Nina Person, Julian Casablancas and David Lynch himself, EMI got into a legal wrangle with Danger Mouse over the release of the record. This lead to Danger Mouse stating that the booklet of pictures, created by David Lynch, would be released with blank cds so that people could burn illegal copies of the record for themselves. It became a right old mess and it’s only now, after the tragic death of Linkous earlier this year that this record has become available to buy.
And buy it you should because it is packed with cracking music. Opening track, ‘Revenge’ featuring Wayne Coyne of The Flamining Lips, is one of my favourite tracks of the year without a shadow of a doubt. In fact, it’s one of the best tunes I’ve heard in a long, long time. So, so good.
If I’m honest, the record does have moments of disappointment, particularly the tracks featuring Iggy Pop and Black Francis. However, the majority of this record is stunning. Linkous yet again shows his ability as a songwriter, and the obvious Sparklehorseness of this record is complimented beautifully by the supporting cast. Star turn outs for me are Coyne, James Mercer of The Shins, Nina Person of the Cardigans, both with Linkous and alone, and the immense closing track featuring Vic Chesnutt. The star of the show though is, without doubt, Linkous. It highlights in no uncertain terms the genius of the man and the aching gap in music that his death has brought about. This record also clearly highlights the respect the man had in musical circles. To be able to draw in the likes of Coyne, Casablancas, Francis, Pop and have worked with Tom Waits as well, just shows the respect that musicians had for him. And he does not disappoint with this record that so brilliantly concludes his recording career – unless of course the rumoured Sparklehorse record he was working on sees the light of day. And lets not forget Danger Mouse. Just like the final Sparklehorse record, this record owes a lot to the wonderful production techniques on offer. I’d prefer to focus on the music though, and Linkous shines as brightly as ever.
Thank goodness this record has been released. Lets hope it receives the attention that it deserves and draws people to the wonderful music of Mark Linkous. Please, have a look here at Sparklehorse. And buy this record. You won’t be disappointed. Enjoy.