Monday, September 5, 2011

Sparklehorse (a pair of misshapedmixtapes)

When Mark Linkous died a year-and-a-half ago (taking his own life), a truly great artist was lost -- and he was lost pretty quietly too. I’ve recently talked to a number of people that have “heard of” Sparklehorse but never “heard them,” which is a damn shame. As for me, I probably would’ve been in the same boat except that I saw Linkous open for Tortoise at the Metro about 8 years ago (one of the most unique concert pairings that I’ve experienced). I loved his set from that show and the whole “It’s A Wonderful Life” album (minus the Tom Waits song). But then I lost track of Sparklehorse (probably as a result of listening to 95% hip-hop for a stretch there) and didn’t come back to Linkous until my good friend Ben re-introduced me to his stuff a few years ago. I’m so glad that he did.

I won’t spend too many words attempting to describe his music (achingly delicate?). I have been listening to a lot of it over the past couple of years and it locks perfectly into a particular mindspace of my own. It is what it is. It’s good.

I made two mixes. The first (“Sick Of Goodbyes”) is a short one (38 minutes) that covers more of the rocking ground. It’s a good introduction to Sparklehorse. If you liked alt rock in the 90’s, you’ll like this.

The second one (“It’s A Sad & Beautiful World”) is the one that I prefer. I guess you could call it chill mood music (you can play it while napping!) but I hope that doesn't sell it short. I made this particular mix awhile ago (then tweaked it a bit) and have listened to it more than any other album of the last five years (except for Eluvium’s “Copia”). And yeah, I usually don’t listen to one thing over-and-over-again… unlike certain former roommates that I’ve had.

One note: the songs on these mixes are Sparklehorse songs… so there’s nothing from the collaborations with Fennesz or Danger Mouse/David Lynch. Also, please please go and buy an album if you like this stuff. It’ll be something that sticks with you. I will say that one reason I do like absorbing my Sparklehorse in mixtape form is that the albums sometimes veer into too many sonic territories for my personal liking. And yeah, at least one or two abrasive noise-experiments tend to pop-up on each Sparklehorse album proper… and those are rad for like a listen or two, but then end up being tracks (or ends of songs) that I skip.

This week, September 9th, would have been Linkous' 49th birthday. Listen to his cover of Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” (on the second mix). That sums up what I’d most want to say.

Here are the track lists for the two tapes (download link for both together is in "comments"):

Sparklehorse - Sick Of Goodbyes (a mishapedmixtape)

01 : Piano Fire
02 : Sick Of Goodbyes
03 : Hey, Joe
04 : Maria's Little Elbows
05 : Hundreds Of Sparrows
06 : Don't Take My Sunshine Away
07 : Mountains
08 : Knives Of Summertime
09 : Comfort Me
10 : Chest Full Of Dying Hawks
11 : Saturday

Sparklehorse – It’s A Sad & Beautiful World (a mishapedmixtape)

01 : Homecoming Queen
02 : Spirit Ditch
03 : Heart Of Darkness
04 : Sad & Beautiful World
05 : Painbirds
06 : Saint Mary
07 : Sunshine
08 : Come On In
09 : All Night Home
10 : Box Of Stars, Pt. 2
11 : Junebug
12 : It's A Wonderful Life
13 : Gold Day
14 : Sea Of Teeth
15 : Apple Bed
16 : Eyepennies
17 : More Yellow Birds
18 : Little Fat Baby
19 : Morning Hollow
20 : Getting It Wrong
21 : Shade And Honey
22 : See The Light
23 : Return To Me
24 : Some Sweet Day
25 : Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd cover)
26 : Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain (aka Maxine)


  1. Im really stoked you have done a mix for Sparklehorse. Few artists have had a bigger influence in the post teenage / approaching middle age phase of my life. A significantly under-appreciated talent and singly most influential artist on any music I attempt to make. His work continues to yield hidden gems after 5 years of listening I can still discover a song that suddenly amazes me. rip Saint Mark, gone but never forgotten.

  2. i hope that someday they release some of the unreleased home recordings that he had been working on. that would make me really happy.