Last night was one of extreme emotion… as I walked in to see 90’s slacker gods, Pavement at The Tivoli, I read that Mark Linkous aka Sparklehorse had taken his life on March 6. This sent me into a spin and my mind flashed-back to the summer of 1995/6, and the two albums that were burning holes in my heart; Pavement’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain and the Sparklehorse debut, vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot.
Both these albums have never strayed too far from heart or mind during the last 15years, so to be seeing Pavement, with the sad news of Mark’s passing, seemed oddly comforting.
Mark Linkous was no stranger to death, having died briefly after an overdose in 1996. His music, was a surreal cocktail of the sad and beautiful; the man himself, embodied the DIY indie spirit writing and performing the songs as well as producing and engineering a great deal of the Sparklehorse catalogue. My first encounter with Sparklehorse came while browsing the shelves at Brisbane’s finest, Rockinghorse Records. The strange alt-country twang of Homecoming Queen was shimmering through the shop speakers and I took myself up to the counter to find out who was making that beautiful noise. And that was that…
And now this…
I recently read that the Sparklehorse/Danger Mouse collaboration (with filmmaker David Lynch), Dark Night of the Soul has been given the go ahead after a very public battle with EMI, who held up the original release. I hope that Mark has only bright nights ahead and that his music continues to open up the world of all who discover him. Today as I played vivadixe, while driving home from work, there was a pang of sadness, but as the album unfolded, it still managed to transfix and to put a lasting smile on my face.
Here are a couple of tracks for anyone who may not have made the discovery and for those who have, I am sure these sounds will remind you of the genius of Sparklehorse:
Sick of Goodbyes, Heart of Darkness & It’s a Wonderful Life
Long may he sparkle…
Well to tell the truth, these folk have been putting out great music for the last decade or so (in Lloyd’s case the last three and a bit). But not one of these artists is trading on nostalgia and for me that is one of the things that is crucial to longevity. So here’s my soundtrack to this perfect Saturday morning… Sparklehorse, Lloyd Cole & Gareth Liddiard (The Drones), I hope it helps brighten yours.
Home Coming Queen – Sparklehorse
This is from the first Sparklehorse album, vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot. Sparklehorse mainman, Mark Linkous has been described as defiantly surreal. And like the surrealist shapeshifter, his work has defied genre and boundary. Most recently, Linkous teamed up with renowned DJ, Dangermouse and dark master of film, David Lynch for the Dark Night of the Soul project. Just love the warmth of this song…
Late Night, Early Town – Lloyd Cole
Most people hear the name Lloyd Cole and expect to hear and the Commotions in the same breath, but the truth is, Lloyd has released a string of brilliant solo albums since the Commotions days ended in the late 80’s. This song is taken from the ridiculously underrated 2003 album, Music in a Foreign Language. And it provides a great taste of things to come, as Lloyd makes his way to Australia in November for a show at The Powerhouse on November 7. I have my ticket… what about you?
Sharkfin Blues – Gareth Liddiard (The Drones)
Known more for their cathartic blues rave ups, this stripped back version of Shark Fin Blues from the sublimely titled 2005 album, Wait Long By The River And The Bodies Of Your Enemies Will Float By, highlights the beautiful menace of this song… They’re coming fin by fin until the whole boat sinks. Beautiful stuff!
This morning I set out into the beautiful drizzle to catch The Stress of Leisure at Tognini’s Cafe (State Library) as part of fete de la musique. And I have to say (despite the venue not being prepared for wet weather) it was great to see The Stress in relaxed troubadour style, bantering with the early morning coffee crowd; dusting off tracks from both albums as well as throwing in a new track and a cover of The Modern Lovers classic, Pablo Picasso. For all those in Brisbane (and beyond) who have not yet become a Leisure Seeker, you can catch the band playing at The Treasury Casino on Thursday, July 23 or alternatively, check out their clip to House and Garden. Great stuff!
And now as the morning slips into afternoon and the rain starts to play its wild timpani on my roof, I totally recommend you check out Dark Night of the Soul. It is a collaboration between Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse and David Lynch… now that is an interesting mix of minds. Throw into the mix guest appearances by Iggy Pop, Frank Black, Vic Chestnutt, Suzanne Vega & The Flaming Lips and you have a mesmerising, hypnotic soundscape that slips dreamlike through your body.
Sadly, the album may never officially be released due to complications between Danger Mouse and EMI, but never fear, you can listen to the whole album at the moment on NPR, so do yourself a favour on this Sunday afternoon; get comfortable and let yourself enter the Dark Night of the Soul.
Press play here.