There's rarely been a better chance to get on intimate terms with the positive musical results of chemical imbalance than this Proletariat show. Mark Linkous, alias Sparklehorse, has been releasing increasingly lush sound-sculptures for more than ten years now, and his brand-new Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain (Astralwerks) continues this tradition handsomely, with songs running the gamut from delicate ballads to bombastically cinematic epics to poppy, punky miniatures. Linkous's gorgeous melodies, wide-screen arrangements and alternately moving and disturbing (but really, what's more moving than a good disturbance?) lyrical and vocal personality have gained him a fan base heavy on acknowledged musical geniuses, and such disparate luminaries as Tom Waits, PJ Harvey, Vic Chesnutt, DangerMouse and Daniel Johnston have all joined him in the studio at various times.
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For his part, Johnston's profile has never been higher than it is right now. The 45-year-old boy wonder (and Waller resident), whose shaky mental state has kept him a shadowy figure for most of his erratic but fascinating career, was the subject of the acclaimed documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston this year; he also released three (!) new discs and showed his "naive" drawings at the Whitney Biennial. To top it off, Houston theatergoers/thrillseekers have had what is arguably the most entertaining and accessible entre yet into Johnston's musical omniverse with Infernal Bridegroom Productions' hit rock opera Speeding Motorcycle, which consisted entirely of Johnston music. Johnston makes a relatively rare live appearance tonight, fronting his raw-as-hell garage band Danny & the Nightmares, allowing for a unique opportunity to see the usually shy, acoustically outfitted Johnston slip into his true rock and roll wild-man mode (just download the epic "Billions (Rock)" from Daniel's Rejected Unknown CD for a taste). Like, crazy, baby.