Sparklehorse – The Scull of Lucia
LISTEN TO ‘THE SCULL OF LUCIA’, LATEST TRACK FROM UPCOMING ALBUM BIRD MACHINE
BIRD MACHINE OUT SEPTEMBER 8
Watch the visuals for ‘The Scull of Lucia’ here:
Last month ANTI- Records and the Sparklehorse estate announced Bird Machine, a posthumous album by Mark Linkous that will be released on September 8. Music had always been a shared language between Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous and his younger brother Matt, and as Mark began work on what he planned to be the fifth Sparklehorse album in 2009, the two of them would talk through his plans for the record. It was these conversations that Matt and Melissa – Mark’s sister-in-law, who had both worked with Sparklehorse – returned to years later as they began to sift through boxes of tapes to catalogue and preserve Mark’s unreleased recordings and bring his posthumous album, entitled Bird Machine, to life.
Today they are sharing ‘The Scull of Lucia’, a quiet, intimate track where you can hear every change of inflection of Mark’s voice. Jason Lytle of Grandaddy also contributed harmonies to the song.
“From the very first seconds of ‘The Scull of Lucia’, I was transported to a different time,” says producer Joel Hamilton who mixed Bird Machine. “The recipe is unmistakably Sparklehorse: The pace, the sounds, the overall texture of the voice. Every sound seems to support the voice and the lyric, which was always at the core of Mark’s genius. The weight of the world, floated on a rickety raft, across a sea of melancholy”
Over the course of four beautiful and otherworldly Sparklehorse records and two Sparklehorse collaborative projects, Mark had built a reputation as one of music’s most distinctive and influential songwriters. His combination of ghostly static-scarred ballads and thrillingly distorted rock was revered by fellow musicians such as Thom Yorke, PJ Harvey and Tom Waits, all of whom he recorded with, and deeply cherished by his fans.
But the intimacy and honesty that made his songs so special also laid bare the troubles that he carried. As he continued to work on his fifth album in the fall of early 2009 and early 2010, recording with Steve Albini in Chicago, and in front of his beloved 1968 Flickinger mixing console at his Static King studio, the depression which had shadowed him for many years began to deepen. On March 6th, he took his own life at the age of 47.
The news of his death was met with tributes from around the musical world. Patti Smith likened his songs to “coal compressed into diamonds”. Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood described how he had “carried the music into [his] life and [his] friends’ lives too”. And though another record did follow, a star-studded collaboration with producer Danger Mouse entitled Dark Night of The Soul which had been finished a year before Mark’s death, it was received by fans as a beautiful but definitive full stop to the Sparklehorse story.
From the time that Mark began working on these songs to the record’s imminent release, 14 years have passed, a long time for a collection of tracks that were already well advanced at the time of Mark’s death. But there’s something too in the album’s long and complex gestation – the chaos of old tapes, the love and care that Mark’s family and his close musician friends have shown to every detail – that makes this so distinctively a Sparklehorse record.”
There’s the pain in his music but also hope and beauty”, says Melissa. “Mark took what he had as experience and put it into song and poetry: trying to find peace, working to stay, the struggles of being human”.”It means so much to me, this last batch of beautiful stuff that my brother was putting together”, says Matt. “When I sit down and put on a pair of headphones, I’ll put on the first track and run it all the way through. Everything from ‘It Will Never Stop’ to ‘I Fucked it Up’ to ‘Stay’, that’s Mark just letting it out.”
Pre-order Bird Machine here:
Photo credit: Danny Clinch
High-res images can be found here
Bird Machine tracklist:
1. It Will Never Stop
2. Kind Ghosts
3. Evening Star Supercharger
4. O Child
6. I Fucked It Up
7. Hello Lord
8. Daddy’s Gone
9. Chaos of the Universe
10. Listening to the Higsons
11. Everybody’s Gone to Sleep
12. The Scull of Lucia