This morning, via twitter, I was made aware of the sad fact that it has now been 3 years since the death of Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse.
Sparklehorse made 4 albums of sad, angry but above all beautiful music. Whenever I return to their 1995 debut LP, the tongue twister titled ‘Vivadixiesubmarrinetransmissionplot’, I come away with the realisation that it might be one of my favourite albums of the 90’s. From the aching lullaby waltz of opener ‘Homecoming Queen’ to the tape hiss laden ‘Gasoline Horseys’ it’s a record I can never imagine tiring off, one of those special albums where I find something new or different sounding to appreciate every time I listen.
The lyrics of Sparklehorse are a surreal mix of inventive images, a rich tapestry of fairytale phrases, pop culture references and self referential wordplay that beg to be explored, examined and interpreted. For the most part they’re delivered in an awkward and brittle voice, barely rising above a soul bearing confessional whisper. A voice which could make something as inane as “Pretty girl, milking a cow, oh yeah” sound like the most heartbreakingly melancholy thing you’ve ever heard.
Mark Linkous’ greatness was perhaps most recognised amongst his peers and the long list of musicians who appeared on Sparklehorse albums (Thom Yorke, PJ Harvey, Tom Waits to name a few) and who participated in his final work, the ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ collaborative project with David Lynch and Dangermouse, are testament to how highly regarded and respected he was.
It’s been touching to see so many tributes paid to Mark Linkous and Sparklehorse today. They are a band I hold very dearly. There appears to be a film on Mark in works and the people who are making it have started a crowdsourcing campaign to fund its development. I really hope they’re successful in getting it made, not just for my own enjoyment, but also so more people can be introduced to such a wonderful and special band.