Customer Reviews: Dark Night of the Soul
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Let us all pause for a moment, and bow our heads for a brilliant musician. Last March, a deeply depressed Mark Linkous aka Sparklehorse committed suicide.

But before he passed away, Linkous finished one last collaboration with Danger Mouse, appropriately entitled "Dark Night of the Soul." Lots of spacefuzz rock'n'roll and colorful psychedelic pop, with countless guest singers/musicians/composers adding their own unique stylings to the music. And sadly, you can hear some foreshading of Linkous' loss in there.

Every song has guest vocalists who also helped produce and composing their songs. It begins with the warm, liquid psychedelica of "Revenge," in which Wayne Coyne croons sadly, "In my mind/I have shot you and stabbed you through your heart/I just didn't understand/The ricochet is the second part..."

Then it switches to the shimmering, glitchy "Just War" with Gruff Rhys, and the fluttering folk-rock of "Jaykub" with Jason Lytle. After those through songs, there's a brief interlude of pure rock'n'roll -- Julian Casablancas slurs through the lean "Little Girl," Black Francis drawls through the half-baked"Angel's Harp," and Iggy Pop... well, he burns through a fiery expanse of dark hard-rock. What else?

Then things sink back into the spacefuzz again, with James Mercer, Jason Lytle, Vic Chestnutt, David Lynch, Suzanne Vega and Nina Persson all contributing. There's the ethereal electronic "Star Eyes (I Can Catch It)," the twinkly chaotic "Insane Lullaby," the bluesy "Daddy's Gone" and "The Man Who Played God," the melancholy folkpop of "Everytime I'm With You," and with bluesy streamers of synth and mats of grimy guitar in the last two songs.

The biggest problem with "Dark Night of the Soul" is that it sounds like too many different artists -- it often sounds more like a compilation of these various people than a unified album. That said, the only song I didn't like was "Angel's Harps," which just sounded half-baked. The rest of the songs are melancholy, tinged with hopelessness and sadness.

The softer songs are full of different instrumentations -- spacey synth that twinkles, shimmers and glitches, xylophones, soft strings, fuzzy guitars and murmuring vocals. The harder, rockier songs have traces of those things, but they rely more on driving guitar and raw blasts of bass -- a particular highlight is Iggy Pop's song, which starts off as a simple hard-rock song, but blossoms with streams of glittering synth and blooming whorls of guitar.

The guest vocalists also do brilliant jobs -- Wayne Coyne, Jason Lytle and Jason Mercer are particular highlights, but all of them are expertly woven into their music. And the lyrics are simply beautiful -- lots of striking imagery ("But dreams float up/from fishers in the flood"), hopelessness ("The last survivor crawling through the dust/There is just war/A contribution till humankind/Turns to rust") and general sadness ("I woke up and all my yesterdays were gone").

Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse crafted a beautiful, saddening collection of songs that turned out to be Linkous' last work -- I wasn't crazy about Black Francis' song, but all the rest are lovely.
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VINE VOICEon July 13, 2010
Recorded last year prior to Broken Bells, this Danger Mouse collaborative project has now come out "officially" in Summer 2010 after the various legal wranglings have been settled. (Of course it was available in various ways online long before this CD version.) I find myself liking it even more than the Broken Bells release because the songwriting here tends to be better overall. The BB album had a few excellent songs, but it also had some dropoffs in quality. That kind of inconsistency would seem more likely on a "project" record like Dark Night, with its eleven different singers, but it really hangs together very well. I liked everything except the noisy, chaotic one-two punch of the back-to-back songs featuring Black Francis and Iggy Pop, respectively. (Those two songs are too Tom Waits-ish for me.) There is a degree of gloominess to the proceedings, as one would expect from major contributors Sparklehorse and Lynch, but there also a kind of pervasive luminosity and melodic beauty to the material that's utterly charming. Naturally it's hard not to dwell on the subsequent suicides of both Mark Linkous and Vic Chestnutt within a few months of this album's production, especially hearing the tune Vic sings (called "Grim Augury"!). With Dark Night now part of their final legacies, it leaves me sorry not to be able to hear any more from the two.
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on July 15, 2010
Sparklehorse is the pseudonym given to the work of singer/songwriter Mark Linkous who tragically killed himself in Knoxville, TN on March 6 of this year at the age of 47. Originally set for a 2009 release, Dark Night of Soul was designed by Sparklehorse to be a multimedia project with producer Danger Mouse and movie director David Lynch. The anticipation surrounding the album's release grew as guest artists ranging from Julian Casablancas of the Strokes and Frank Black of the Pixies to Iggy Pop and The Flaming Lips added their own unique touch to individual songs on the album.

The album opens with "Revenge" featuring Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, a slow groove that sets the mood for what I can only describe as the first act of the record. Often seen as one of the few bands comparable to Flaming Lips, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals follows "Revenge" with "Just War" that lifts the mood slightly while maintaining the slower tempo of its predecessor. Jason Lytle of Grandaddy finishes this first act with "Jaykub" which maintains the dreamy sonic wavering heard on various instruments throughout the start of the album, but once again adds some light to the darkened approach to this Dark Night of Soul.

With the first three tracks flowing so perfectly together, a simple three hits of the snare drum announce a new act, led by The Strokes' Julian Casablancas and the incredibly Strokes-like single "Little Girl." By the time Casablancas' track concludes, it is clear each artist was given a great deal of creative freedom with their collaborative efforts. Any doubts are left behind after Black Francis and Iggy Pop follow Casablancas with tracks that could easily be mistaken for lost tracks by their own respective bands.

Although a 100-page book of photographs by David Lynch accompanies the record, his presence isn't felt in the music until halfway through when the shimmering "Star Eyes (I Can't Catch It)" enters. His compositions play very much like his movies, eerie and intriguing. "Star Eyes" and the closing track "Dark Night of the Soul" may be his only musical contributions, but their artistic and expressive bounds turn from brilliant collaboration to fitting memorial for a talent that took himself from this world far too early. For those of you who have been waiting anxiously for this album to hit the shelves, Dark Night of Soul is a gem worth the delay.

Similar Artists: Pavement, Tom Waits

Track Suggestion: "Star Eyes (I Can't Catch It)"
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on July 19, 2010
Sparklehorse's Mark Linkous sadly passed away in March this year. This album, "Dark night of the soul", was actually intended for release summer 2009 but was withheld till now thanks to record company issues, somewhat reminiscent of Producer Danger Mouse's issues with his "The Grey Album" Beatles/Jay-Z mashup.

Thankfully that's all behind now and so we get to listen to Linkous' and Danger Mouse's masterpiece. Featuring a plethora of singers (who also lend their songwriting skills), the collection manages to sound cohesive while still exploring different facets of sound.

Most of the songs are floaty and psychedelic with dark lyrics; "Revenge" with Wayne Coyne ("No you can't hide what you intend, it glows in the dark / Once we become the thing we dread, there's no way to stop." sings Coyne in a breaking voice), "Just war" with Gruff Rhys, the Beatles-esque "Jaykub" and "Everytime I'm with you" both with Jason Lytle, the trippy lullaby-like "Stars Eyes (I can catch it)" and the fuzzy "Insane lullaby" both with James Mercer, the Alt-Country "Daddy's gone" and "The man who played God" both with Nina Persson, the haunting and absolutely beautiful "Grim augury" and the distorted Alt-Country title track, both with Vic Chesnutt.

Raising the tempo are the sunny jangly "Little girl" with Julian Casablancas (sounding like something by Gnarls Barkley with snarling and buzzing guitars and a soulful croon), the crunchy Bluesy "Angel's harp" with Black Francis, and the pulsing absolutely charming "Pain" with a Bowie-esque Iggy Pop (singing "There are good people in this world of bums, but sadly I am not one") and lovely swirling keys.

Everything is an absolute gem really, and I'm hard pressed to pick a favourite. A fitting epitaph.
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on June 27, 2012
This is a great box set! Amazons description may confuse some aren't getting 4 discs as it states at initial glance, but you will see in the detailed part of description contents that you are in fact getting 2 LP's and 2 CD's. Additionally you get a poster, some photo cards and a large booklet containing photos and some brief song lyric quotes. The 2 LP's have the same recorded songs that are featured on the original CD. The part that I enjoy is the other instrumental CD which leaves off the vocals so you can in fact sing to it and even make your own album by recording your voice onto the instrumentals using a music software off your home computer producing a mp3 file of your own. I've done this and had a lot of fun with the process, which makes this a worthwhile package if you can grab it at a reasonable price.
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on July 13, 2010
What a way to go out! Mark Linkous (Sparklehorse) and Danger Mouse have created a sonic masterpiece. This album of haunting songs will continue to imbed itself into your soul more deeply each time it is listened to. I am a music snob, and I have not heard anything this good in at least three or four years. I have listened to, and enjoyed Sparklehorse since the first album, Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot, but he apparently was just hitting his stride as a musician when he created these songs. The all-star guest musicians are great, with Black Francis, Flaming Lips, Strokes, and the outrageous Iggy Pop. BUY THIS RECORD! THERE IS NO POSSIBLE WAY YOU WILL BE DISAPPOINTED! The opening song "Revenge", alone is worth the entire cost of this download. One of the best anti-love songs ever recorded. Don't miss the boat, this album is the one people will be talking about for the next year. So when that music snob friend of yours asks you if you've heard it, you can answer in the affirmative. Such a shame this tremendous talent is no more. Rest in Peace, Mark.
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on May 28, 2015
I enjoyed Danger Mouse's collaborations with Cee Lo Green for Gnarles Barkley, and James Mercer of The Shins for Broken Bells; however, this album just wasn't that good. It's worth a listen, but it's not something I play again and again.
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VINE VOICEon August 11, 2011
"Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain," Mark Linkous' next-to-last major work, was perhaps the Platonic ideal of a Sparklehorse album, with all the right amounts of fuzz and folk and electronica and pop and focus. To follow up, Linkous left the flickering warmth (and confining walls) of his mountain cave to wander around in this, his criminally underrated "Dark Night of the Soul," which unfortunately proved to be a departure album in one too many ways.

Linkous spent a lot of his "Dark Night" shining the spotlight on a great variety of noteworthy fellow travellers, including Iggy Pop, Black Francis, James Mercer and Vic Chesnutt. (If you don't know who these people are, or if you're unfamiliar with their work, then God help you.) The list of celebrity special guests carrying the mic approaches rap album proportions, but what could have been a cheap stage gimmick often works remarkably well. (It helps that Linkous and Danger Mouse adeptly stage-managed things so that every contributor's perfectly matched to their song.) Here and there, the soul-searching takes things a little far afield; also, the standout moments (the preachy-but-powerful Flaming Lips collaboration "Revenge," Iggy Pop croaking out "I'm a mix of God and monkey" on "Pain," Vic Chesnutt's gothic "Grim Augury") end up being so enjoyable that the others (particularly "Star Eyes") feel like...well, not exactly filler, but something lighter and fluffier than everything else. They say the first rule of showbiz is to always leave them wanting more, and a shorter, tighter, more uniformly dark album might have packed a bit more punch.

Such complaints do feel a bit churlish when measured against the album's special strengths, and its sad circumstances. Released posthumously, "Dark Night of the Soul" ended up becoming one of those bleak-but-beautiful codas (like Joy Division's "Closer") whose finality gives them added layers of sad meaning. It's a bittersweet reminder of what the world lost when Linkous took his own life--a musician's musician, unique and inimitable enough that he could enlist a host of talented others into fleshing out his dark vision; a man whose own dark nights apparently did him in, but who left us a bright and beautiful legacy.
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on October 15, 2013
I'm in my fifties and love all kinds of music. I'm not sure where I heard about this album, chances are it was in an audiophile magazine.I bought the cd first and wow, I was like a kid again-put into heavy rotation is an understatement. The songwriting, the musicianship, the production and the recording are all A+++. I had to get it on vinyl just to compare to the disc and honestly they are both so good they sound the same. This to me is one of the best albums I've heard in years. it's not an album to play at a party, but one to savor.
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on February 13, 2013
Although shipping time was longer than other orders it was worth the wait. I recommend this type of music to those looking for something a little different from the normal. There are sites that provide clips of the music to decide if it is to your liking.
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