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Published on August 31st, 2009 | by NaRocRoc

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Dark Night of the Soul…

A bit late getting this post together but better late than never right?

Dark Night of the Soul is a collaboration. But not like any you’ve seen or heard before. David Lynch is heavily involved so it really couldn’t be too strightforward.

DARK NIGHT POSTER FINALai

From its very inception, and through initial leaks, the whole project seemed shrouded in mystery and still, to a certain extent, is.

According to NPR “it all started back in March, at the South by Southwest music festival and conference”. Strange posters were noticed around downtown Austin, Texas, that read “Dark Night of the Soul.” “They looked like movie posters and had David Lynch’s name on them, alongside names of some of our favorite artists, like Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse, Vic Chesnutt, Jason Lytle and more. We wondered if it was some sort of musical film”.

Soon after their Austin trip, NPR Music received copies of the mysterious posters in the post. No return address. “Someone was messing with us… Then, weeks later, I finally got a note from a publicist with all the details we’d been waiting for”.

It turns out Dark Night of the Soul began when Danger Mouse, a fan of Lynch’s work for many years, approached the filmmaker about a possible project. The artists worked together and were inspired by each other— Lynch making photographs influenced by the original songs that Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse were creating.

The project is billed on the poster as “Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse present… Dark Night Of The Soul”. The album features songs that were written by producer extraordinaire Danger Mouse and musician and genius Mark Linkous from the wonderful Sparklehorse. In addition, a whole host of musical geniuses are involved in the collaboration including The Flaming Lips, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Julian Casablancas of The Strokes, James Mercer of The Shins, Frank Black of the Pixies, Iggy Pop, Nina Persson of The Cardigans, Suzanne Vega, Vic Chesnutt, David Lynch, and Scott Spillane of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Gerbils.

It contains a real wealth of talent, with many of the performers on top, top form. The myriad singers featured on each track also had a big hand in composing and producing the work, placing lyrics over soundscapes and noise fuelled backgrounds. And it really is a remarkable body of work. Particular standout tracks include Revenge featuring The Flaming Lips, Just War featuring Gruff Rhys, and Little Girl, a rollicking good track by Julian Casablancas. My particular favourite is the dark and brilliant Insane Lullaby featuring James Mercer. David Lynch himself also contributes spoken word vocals to a couple of fine tracks. There are however two tracks to pass over, those featuring Black Francis and Iggy Pop.

On the whole DNOTS is a stunning achievement. It truly shows what a host of guest artists on a collaborative album can achieve. Each brings something different to the table but it all blends to form a uniquely atmospheric, charged piece of work. A similar mood and tone permeate each track, all lending to the final, fully formed, narrative. Though each track has it’s own sense of identity and individual merit, it still feels like one entire album and not just a collection of tracks.

The intention was for the album, poster and the book of photographs to combine to form one big atmospheric picture. David Lynch and Danger Mouse have also designed a two-room installation “capitalising on the interplay between the music from the album and the artwork created for that very album, allowing the mediums of art and music to complement one another”.

The album was initially going to be packaged with a book of photos taken by David Lynch. But now there’s word that the music may never be officially released at all although, ahem, it is readily available online.

An unnamed spokesperson for Danger Mouse says that “due to an ongoing dispute with EMI” the book of photographs will “now come with a blank, recordable CD-R. All copies will be clearly labeled: ‘For legal reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will.'” While offering no specifics, EMI has acknowledged the legal dispute with Danger Mouse and released a statement saying, “Danger Mouse is a brilliant, talented artist for whom we have enormous respect. We continue to make every effort to resolve this situation and we are talking to Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) directly. Meanwhile, we need to reserve our rights.”

According to the official DNOTS website, “Danger Mouse is hugely proud of Dark Night of The Soul and hopes that people lucky enough to hear the music, by whatever means, are as excited by it as he is”.

You can order the book and the poster, sans music, from the official Dark Night Of The Soul site. In the meantime, you can hear the entire album hereon NPR Music as an Exclusive First Listen. And believe me it is well worth a listen.

For more info:

The Official Site
David Lynch Foundation TV

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Life goes by pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.



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