Saturday, 18 July 2009
Producer Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse
Release date(s) 2009
Those in the know when it comes to music will recognize the name Danger Mouse. This man rose to fame in the wake of his mash up masterpiece the Grey Album, mixing together the Beatles White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album. It was deemed highly illegal and could only be obtained by download on the internet, but this success allowed him to go on to produce albums for Gorillaz and the Shortwave set, as well as his own studio albums under the name Gnarls Barkley, for which he is better known.
Now he has returned along with Sparklehorse and actor David Lynch to produce a compilation of original songs, featuring vocals from a variety of well known artists (who also helped compose the songs). These artists include the Flaming Lips, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, Julian Casablancas of the Strokes, the Pixies, Iggy Pop, James Mercer of the Shins, and Nina Persson of the Cardigans.
In addition to this, David Lynch has produced a book of photography designed to serve as a narrative for the album. Unfortunately, in classic Danger Mouse tradition, someone has seen fit to take legal issue with the release of this album, and now it may never see the light of day as a legal purchase. Instead one can purchase the book of photos (limited to 5000 copies) off the website along with a blank CD-R containing the message "For Legal Reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will." And it doesn't take a genius to figure out what you're supposed to do with that.
Of course this could all just be a clever marketing ploy. The fact that such a star studded album has been deemed 'illegal' and can only be obtained in such a sneaky "up yours RIAA" manner is seriously badass, and ultimately will probably help sell records.
So here I am halfway through a review without even mentioning the music. Normally that wouldn't bode well for an album, but in this case that is neither unjustified, nor does it detract from the end product.
The album opens on a suitably dark tone with Revenge, featuring the Flaming Lips and follows strongly with Just War from Gruff Rhys, which can best be described as 'Strawberry Fields meets Fallout 3', giving this war torn, post apocalyptic picture a sound of rainbows and psychedelia. Jaykub is a dreamy number, and one that I don't much care for, continuing the psychedelic nature of the opening tracks.
The tempo then changes drastically as the album enters it's next phase, with Little Girl, by Julian Casablancas of the Strokes. Indeed this number sounds throughly strokes-like, albeit with a noticeable electronic twist, and Casablancas' smooth, nonchalant vocals exerting a calming influence on the album, one of my favorite tracks.
The next two songs are ones I don't particularly care for, though I can imagine that someone who likes either the Pixies or Iggy Pop might like them. But I don't, so I don't. Incidentally I was one of those types who didn't like Lost & Damned, the add-on for GTA, so go figure.
However the album then takes another drastic turn back into the realm of dreamy psychedelia, and my favorite song on the album, David Lynch's Star Eyes, featuring the vocals of The Shins' James Mercer. Heavy on the vocoder and strings, this is a song to zone out to while looking at the stars at night.
James Mercer returns in another strong track, Insane Lullaby, a wonderful symphony of distortion, strings and bells, warmly surrounded by Mercer's typically confused-but-excited vocals. Further decent tracks include Daddy's Gone as sung by Nina Persson and The Man Who Played God, which ends up being one of the strongest points of the album, with its effervescent crunchy guitars and radio ready pop stylings. However special note goes to the wonderful, so dark light can not escape its surface, finale Dark Night of the Soul. A tune that really warrants the name.
Ultimately this album is a fantastically diverse piece of work, featuring a song list from some extremely talented musicians and one of the top producers in the world. Forget about all the irrelevant drama and court cases and do yourself a favor by seeking this one out... somehow.
The Man Who Played God