Album review: Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse's 'Dark Night of the Soul'
"Dark Night of the Soul" arrived almost as a myth. A 13-track collaboration with a rotating cast of singers, including Black Francis and Iggy Pop, the album turned gloom and mystery into the enchanting — a soundtrack, perhaps, for a macabre fairy tale.
Yet the project, an effort spearheaded by studio maestro Danger Mouse, a.k.a. Brian Burton, and the adventurous, rootsy surrealism of Sparklehorse, a.k.a. Mark Linkous, seemed destined to be a lost album. Legal drama between Danger Mouse and EMI tied up the album's release. A companion book of the same name, featuring the photographs of filmmaker David Lynch, came with a blank CD-R, seemingly encouraging fans to acquire the songs through less than legal means.
Now, more than a year after the music was officially unveiled at a Los Angeles art gallery, "Dark Night of the Soul" is receiving a legit release. Coming, however, just a few months after Linkous committed suicide, the lush, dreamlike orchestrations of "Dark Night of the Soul" seems no less fabled coming from a major label.
There's a hesitating beauty to the nightmares explored on "Dark Night," from the keyboard symphonies of "Revenge," featuring a calmly paranoid vocal take from the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne, to the carnival-like haunt of "Everytime I'm with You," led by a leery Jason Lytle (Grandaddy). It's only when the album tries to kick up a racket, such as the Julian Casablancas-sung "Little Girl," that the hallucinatory images get an unnecessary jolt. But tales such as the Vic Chesnutt-led trance of "Grim Augury," as well as the crooked pianos and spoken-word delivery from Lynch on the title track, show that there's plenty of beauty in weirdness.
-- Todd Martens
Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse
"Dark Night of the Soul"
Three stars (out of four)
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