First Listen: Danger Mouse And Sparklehorse Team Up With David Lynch For 'Dark Night Of The Soul'

It took more than a year of closely guarded negotiations, but Dark Night of the Soul, the mysterious album from Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse and David Lynch, is finally getting an official release. Dark Night of the Soul was initially announced in the spring of 2009, but never came out because of an unspecified dispute between EMI Records and producer Brian Burton (a.k.a. Danger Mouse). That dispute has since been resolved, and the album will now be released on July 13. Until then, you can hear the whole thing here as part of NPR Music's First Listen series.

Danger Mouse and Mark Linkous (a.k.a. Sparklehorse) first came up with the idea for Dark Night of the Soul while working together on the 2006 Sparklehorse album Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain. Linkous had written a number of songs he wasn't comfortable singing, so Danger Mouse suggested getting someone else to do the vocals. The result is an all-star cast of guest artists on Dark Night, including The Shins' James Mercer (who most recently worked with Danger Mouse on the Broken Bells album), Julian Casablancas of The Strokes and Iggy Pop, each of whom offers his own interpretation of the Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse songs.

"As we finished the songs with the various artists, we started to notice some interesting patterns," Burton says. "We'd never given specific direction to any of the singers involved, nor had we played them any of the other songs on the album. Yet there seemed to be common themes in the lyrics and feel of the songs. There was pain, revenge, war, twisted dreams and other beautifully haunting visual aspects to it all."

Part of those haunting visual aspects were captured in a series of surreal photographs filmmaker David Lynch created, based on the stories and themes of the songs. The images are available in a 48-page book in the deluxe version of Dark Night of the Soul, which also includes a poster, postcards, two LPs, a CD and a bonus instrumental CD. Lynch himself actually sings on a couple of tracks on the album.

Dark Night of the Soul is about as strange and gloomy as you might expect from David Lynch or Mark Linkous, who tragically took his own life earlier this year. (One of the guest vocalists on the album, Vic Chesnutt, also committed suicide last December.) But Dark Night has its uplifting moments, too, with catchy pop and rock hooks and rhythms. It's the perfect marriage of joy and sorrow, and one of the most memorable collections of songs from the past year.

In addition to Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse, other artists appearing on Dark Night of the Soul include The Flaming Lips, Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy and Admiral Radley, Frank Black of Pixies, Nina Persson of The Cardigans, Suzanne Vega, Vic Chesnutt, David Lynch and Scott Spillane of Neutral Milk Hotel, and The Gerbils.

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