Album: Dark Night of the Soul
Artist: Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse
No stranger to controversy, Danger Mouse was at it again in 2009. His highly-anticipated collaboration with Sparklehorse, Dark Night of the Soul, was held up from official distribution due to a dispute with EMI, potentially rendering it a lost cause. However, the perpetually optimistic producer managed to release it anyway as a "blank" CD-R insert to go along with a 100-page book accompaniment. The results, unsurprisingly, were everything we could have hoped for.
Featuring an enormous range of artists, from The Shins' James Mercer, to The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne, to The Strokes' Julian Casablancas and more, Dark Night of the Soul comes off as a relaxing trip into the outer reaches of the mind. With spacious arrangements, and a rare sense of cogency for a collaboration of this degree, the album lives up to its name, appearing dark and mysterious, yet not depressing. It truly explores every degree of human emotion, from the lust of Casablancas' "Little Girl" to the struggle of Iggy Pop's "Pain" to the sadness of Nina Persson's (The Cardigans) "Daddy's Gone." Not bad for a "blank" CD-R. The album's still available for streaming over at NPR, so if you haven't checked it out yet, I'd highly recommend doing so.
Best Track: "Insane Lullaby (Feat. James Mercer)"
[Previously on Animal Noises: Best Albums of 2009: #26, God Help The Girl's God Help The Girl]