Saturday, September 30th, 2006
Ghost In The Sky
Five years is a long time to be away. After 2001’s It’s A Wonderful Life, Sparklehorse mastermind Mark Linkous essentially disappeared off the map. But now that he’s back with Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain, it’s only natural that folks want to know what happened to him.
Artvoice finds out what he was doing in that time (“For three years, I’d just come to my studio and stare at my equipment”), The Guardian finds out what motivated him to get off his ass (he couldn’t pay his rent) and Exclaim! finds out where he hopes his working with Danger Mouse will lead (“I hope to meld even further and bring my pop thing into more of a hip-hop world.”). He also talks to the The Houston Chronicle about his mixing board (“a wicked piece of gear”) and STV.tv about why sad songs say so much (“I think a lot of people prefer sad songs because it makes them feel like they’re not so alone and maybe it can be a comfort, to say that being sad isn’t such a bad thing, that sometimes it’s okay to be sad”). For a guy who’s been so reclusive over the last half-decade, he’s certainly got a lot to say. And if you were reading the print edition of Harp and were wondering why the Mark Linkous interview didn’t actually continue on the page they said it did – or any other, for that matter – at least the whole thing is available online.
And what of the album itself? The first few times I listened, it was on my smaller bedroom stereo or iPod and put simply, it sounded like a Sparklehorse record. The blend of slow, warped vinyl folk songs with transistorized, white fuzz rockers, all anchored by Linkous’ sad and ghostly voice is unmistakable and while it was unquestionably great to have new material from him, I couldn’t help feeling a bit disappointed that I’d already heard it all before. But then last night, finally having the opportunity to take the time and listen to it on my proper stereo, I was reminded of just why a Sparklehorse record that sounds like a Sparklehorse record is cause for rejoicing and not disappointment. Though his work is often described as “lo-fi”, Linkous’ productions are wonderously detailed and endlessly revealing when listened to properly – every whir, click, creak and ache is meticulously placed and the end result is a sonic adventure into the fractured world of Linkous’ head – truly a sad and beautiful world. I’d recommend taking Light Years or It’s A Wonderful Life as testing material the next time you go shopping for audio equipment – if you don’t mind the salesman thinking you’re a complete and total nutter, that is.
Junkmedia reviewes a recent live show in New York City and declares it a triumph. The ‘Horse is in Europe through November and will apparently be spending the early part of ’07 down under where it’ll be warm.
Remember when I said that I’d be very wary of seeing Cat Power again because I couldn’t imagine her topping her solo show at Lee’s Palace earlier this month? Well that’s apparently going to be put to the test as she returns on November 22 – The Memphis Rhythm Band in tow – for a show at the Phoenix. Hmm, says I. Hmm. Full November tour dates here and a reminder that an exclusive EP will be available on eMusic starting October 4. Full details at Pitchfork.
The Wall Street Journal reports on Paul Westerberg’s move into movie soundtracks – he provided the music for the new animated feature Open Season for which there’s actually Oscar buzz. Westerberg at the Academy Awards? Stranger things have happened. Via claudepate.com.
Jenny Lewis discusses her upcoming tour (which stops at Trinity-St Paul’s in Toronto on October 7) with Pitchfork while the The Cleveland Plains Dealer also has a brief conversation. And if you didn’t notice, I’m running a contest for passes to the aforementioned Toronto show over here.
A couple albums due out on Tuesday are already streaming online for you weekend listening pleasure – check out The Hold Steady’s Boys And Girls In America at Vagrant and The Decemberists’ The Crane Wife at MTVu. The Hold Steady are at the Horseshoe October 28 and the Decemberists are at the Kool Haus November 6.