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coverpic flag US - Virginia - Full Moon 162 - 12/02/09

Sparklehorse + Fennesz
In the Fishtank

This is number 15 in Dutch label Konkurrent's experiment series of In The Fishtank collaborations. This is about bringing two parts (bands or artists) together for some teamwork-recording session, with a strict limit concerning time-line and deadline: 2 days of recording. The point is to aim for a quick and efficient collaboration and recording.

Number 15 brought together Christian Fennesz and Mark Linkous (a.k.a. Sparklehorse) for the happening, and the couple spent 2 days in December 2007 of recording to make sure some 40 minutes were captured to tape. The gents (on guitars, keyboards, electronics and computers) came up with 7 pieces of music of a rather odd and creepy-spooky nature. I'd say this is closer to Fennesz than Sparklehorse as we know him. Of course, being a collection of mainly instrumental, floating soundscapes doesn't bring up any Sparklehorse memories, of the trademark Linkous pop melancholia. Fennesz' ambient Endless Summer (2001), with its manipulated sound with a pop touch, was critically acclaimed when it arrived. I prefer the works of Sparklehorse, but I am open to a creative forum like this. If it's working, and if it's exciting, and if the fruits of it taste good.

I must say that the first couple of spins left me somehow sceptical. Maybe 2 days only leaves a too open, unfinished result? That said, 2 days is the rule, and are in fact a lot of hours, if they're used well. So, I put aside all thoughts of regular Sparklehorse songs, and play the album once more. Ad once more. And again. And, slowly, things are working better, with more an more falling into its right place. It's sort of a soundtrack to a dystopic wasteland. It's not pretty, but it's not meant to be either. The opening "Music Box of Snakes" sets a nightmarish mood. "Goodnight Sweetheart" do have a touch of Sparklehorse, with Linkous as a young Tom Waits. It seems "NC Bongo Buddy" is the key noise-track, surrounded by "Mark's Guitar Piece" and "Christian's Guitar Piece". Sparklehorse and Fennesz' In the Fishtank is claustrophobic, but also an exciting swim. A night swim, that is, in dark waters.

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