It's a fact that Danger Mouse is a celebrity. When he dropped the Grey Album it became an instant-classic and plenty of labels wanted to scoop up his talent. EMI Records has a great track record, by the way, of screwing with their artists. So, what do we get when we combine Danger Mouse, EMI, visionary director David Lynch, and the brains behind Sparklehorse?
Dark Night of the Soul! Except...not really.
"Danger Mouse is a brilliant, talented artist for whom we have enormous respect. We continue to make every effort to resolve this situation and we are talking to Brian Burton (Danger Mouse) directly. Meanwhile, we need to reserve our rights."
Ah yes, the reserving of rights. The Kleptones summarize my feelings on that pretty well what with the vomiting noises in the background and all.
The thing about this is...why? Why does great art have to suffer and go through all this red tape, when it's already been made and it's ready to make everyone some money? I mean, it's not like the music isn't available. And it's not like everyone who's interested in this album doesn't already know that! So now what's happening is that the consumers who were perfectly willing and ready to hand over some of their cash now have to be inconvenienced to steal the product that they were willing to buy. Everyone loses.
As it stands, controversy aside, the actual material itself is brilliant, as one would expect it to be. The opening track, featuring the Flaming Lips, captures the tone perfectly. After that, things get a little scatter brained, but, like I said, it's kind of in the way we'd expect when these sorts of people team up. Things continue along in roughly the same vibe until track five, "Angel's Harp" featuring Black Francis on vocals and track six, titled "Pain" which features Iggy Pop. They're great tracks, don't get me wrong, but there's a sonic shift that occurs at this point in the music that seems a little out of place, until the second to last track, which features Vic Chesnutt. The album is mostly a mellow affair, although there are elements to the production that shows how many directions Danger Mouse's brain seems to stretch in - see, for example, the sounds that have been described as a money machine behind James Mercer's vocals on "Insane Lullaby," track nine.
Dark Night of the Soul certainly isn't going to be for everyone, and it's not going to be a cultural touchstone in the way that the Grey Album was. (Unless people fall in love with one of the songs, propel that song to single-dom [BTW, I feel like I could write a whole other blog entry on the songs, reviewing them one by one and going over their likelihood to become commercially viable singles, most of them are that good] and this results in the album getting a lot more promotion. Which isn't impossible, but very unlikely.) However, it is an important piece of art that deserves to be better-supported. While Greg Gillis, AKA Girl Talk, gets to put out his albums simply because the record industry is scared of changing the status quo, that same status quo is squashing the ways in which other pieces of art can be released. We need some change.