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Sunday swims, Chinglish and Sparklemouse

Big Red and I were very active today – she wasn’t very helpful while I cleaned the oven after the Princess Shazza explosion yesterday, but then we tootled down to Glebe to see the lovely Miss Mel for coffee. Then she waited patiently while I struggled through a swim – it was such a glorious afternoon with the sun glittering on the outdoor (albeit heated) pool, and yet I barely had to share a lane. After that we raced back to Oxford Street for some yoga practice. It’s finally starting to work, it seems, so have decided to try to teach mum the brief string of poses I know so we can practice together in the George.

One bonus of the Princess Shazza adventure yesterday was the odd Chinglish name the doll came with: “Benign Girl”. Thought I had stumbled on something unique, until Mel told me today she has a Benign Girl toy phone (long story). How did she get her name? Is she really that non-threatening (or indeed, non-carcinogenic)? And if she’s supposed to be so demure, what’s with the red fetish heels and glitter eye make-up??

On a completely different note, have been smashing the amazing album Dark Night Of The Soul all day. The songs were all written and performed/produced by Sparklehorse (AKA Mark Linkous) and Dangermouse (AKA Brian Burton). The two had fuelled rumours of a forthcoming collaboration for years, and it’s tragic that they didn’t release DNOTS under either of the fantastic portmanteaux “Sparklemouse” or “Dangerhorse”.

It’s a brilliant, cohesive record, even though each of the 13 tracks has a different vocalist and the tone veers from space pop to scuzzy punk to what I can only think to describe as baroque country. And the list of collaborators is incredible: Black Francis (Pixies), Iggy Pop, Suzanne Vega, Vic Chesnutt, Julian Casablancas (The Strokes), Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips), James Mercer (The Shins), Nina Persson (The Cardigans), Jason Lytle (Grandaddy) and more. I think my favourites are the Mercer track, the toy piano-driven “Star Eyes”, and “Daddy’s Gone” on which Linkous takes lead vocals while Persson’s silky Swedish harmonies curl around a laidback string section. The title track, featuring David Lynch, is suitably staticy and film-noir cinematic.

The recording has been in the can for a while (you probably heard the Casablancas cut “Little Girl” months ago on Triple J) but a legal dispute with EMI saw the project sidelined and possibly even silenced for good. Despite the feverish anticipation of music nuts, and spurred on by a further collaboration with David Lynch who put together a book of visual interpretations of the songs. But Sparklemouse (I’m calling them that even if they’re not) circumvented the drama by releasing Lynch’s book with a blank CD, ostensibly for burning the album which can be found online for download.

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