Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain - Sparklehorse

Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain - Sparklehorse


Five years on from the last Sparklehorse record Mark Linkous has surfaced again. He is back with his static clouds of melody and warped country noir. If a week is a long time in politics then five years is close to a lifetime in music. Thankfully Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain is as welcome as January’s pay cheque.

Linkous has spent a large part of those missing years in combat with his demons. They were dark days for him. Despite or maybe because of this there is a gentle optimism that floats just beneath the surface of the songs. From the spectral 3am whisper of Return to Me to the wasp’s nest on a roller coaster of Ghost In The Sky the lyrics and music continually take surprising and uplifting turns.

The opening Don’t Take My Sunshine Away is The Beatles refracted through the shattered shell of a Cadillac on the highway to Twin Peaks. Its lush vocal harmonies and melody which are as big and bright as a harvest moon lost all wrapped up in a warm static haze. It’s the kind of cosmic American music that Gram Parsons was dreaming of. If Gram had lived in New York and joined The Velvet Underground that is.

Shade and Honey is the perfect metaphor for Linkous’ songs. Dark lyrics wrapped inside sugar-coated melodies. Melodies that are then dragged drunk and crazy through a junk yard at midnight. The chugging guitar riff opens into a sly and upbeat chorus.

The title track closes the LP in 10 minutes of instrumental melancholic delight. The guitar chords float across a piano part that is barely there, it seems to repeat itself like an eerie dream. It drifts off into silence before gently returning. Welcome back, Mr Linkous. Please don’t stay away as long next time, we’ve missed you.

Tony Heywood (c)

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