Sunday, March 07, 2010

Sparkleobit: Mark Linkous

The suicide of Mark Linkous from Sparklehorse was confirmed earlier today in an official statement from his family.

That Sparklehorse only released four official albums reflects unfairly on Linkous' work; outside of his private umbrella, he collaborated and produced and collaborated again.

Just this week, it was announced that Dark Night Of The Soul - Linkous' hook-up with Danger Mouse and David Lynch - would finally get a proper release. It was originally put online as an official leak, with a blank CD getting released after EMI and the musicians fell out.

During a 1996 support slot on a Radiohead tour, Linkous overdosed on a mix of anti-depressants and alcohol. The suicide bid failed, but succeeded in trapping him in his hotel room, unable to move; the misadventure left him in a wheelchair for half a year.

In 2006, Mark told Under The Radar about his darker days, and his escape route:

"Well...I got in a real...real bad headspace," he says, taking long, deliberate pauses between each word. "I just got really depressed for a long time and couldn't do anything. I couldn't work at all. I missed having the desire to do any of that. I missed it making me feel good, making music. I think I cried for three years, probably. That's why it took so long. I just couldn't work, and I became a real recluse. I never left the house."

Somewhat contradictorily, his response to those feelings was to move even farther away from civilization, from his home state of Virginia to the mountains of North Carolina.

"There had been lots of droughts, and they do clear-cutting there where they chop down all of the trees-it almost looks like a bomb hit. I just needed to get away from Virginia," he says, sounding uncertain as he describes a physical landscape that could be a metaphor for his frame of mind during that period. "I sort of ended up in North Carolina by accident. It's unlike Virginia in that it hasn't been populated. I think they only got electricity in the area in the '60s. There's a lot of unspoiled land and national forest that you're surrounded by. There's not a lot of old, old houses. It's on top of a mountain, really high up. I guess the reason that they call it the Smokey Mountains is that a lot of times the smoke, or the mist on the mountains, they look like little clouds, like the mountain is smoking. We live up so high that those clouds are sometimes under the house. Everything is named after a dead Indian there, unfortunately."

Sadly, it seems the dark has overwhelmed him.

This is Mark in action, from 1996, on an unnamed French TV programme:

Nobody knew for certain how old Mark Linkous was; most obituarists guesstimate somewhere in his 40s.