Saturday, May 14, 2011

In the Field With Mark Linkous And Sparklehorse

It's been over a year since Mark Linkous passed away; his perspective is still an inspiration and a foundational example for many young artists who are rooted in rural culture yet interested in  representing their place in new ways. We recently discovered some wonderful documentary footage online that we'd like to share -- it patiently captures the prevailing spirit behind Mr. Linkous and Sparklehorse.

As we wrote in our remembrance of Mr. Linkous last year, his music stood in a profound position between traditional and avant-garde rural art forms; perhaps for those reasons, Sparklehorse found a large audience in Europe, as American listeners either had a hard time with a lyrical perspective too often pigeonholed as "southern gothic" or the music was simply not formulaic enough to make it onto the airwaves and stereos of more listeners.

Luckily for all of us, this 1998 Italian documentary has made its way to YouTube; it's an intimate and artfully-done portrait of Mr. Linkous and rural Virginia. The film is split into nine parts and may make for some peaceful rainy-day weekend viewing. If folks haven't heard the music of Sparklehorse, we highly recommend Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot (1995) and also It's a Wonderful Life (2001). 

Here's the first part of Sparklehorse = Mark Linkous = Southern Man

Here also is a live version of "Cow" from Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot. Though there are many artful fan-made videos of Mr. Linkous's music, this audience-level live clip seems to get at the obscure beauty of his music: