One of the year's most talked about and closely guarded albums may not be released at all. It's called "Dark Night of the Soul." The album comes from two successful artists who go by the names Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse plus an unusual collaborator, the eccentric filmmaker, David Lynch.

The album has leaked out on the Web, and our reviewer Robin Hilton says release or no, it's worth a listen.


ROBIN HILTON: Producer and multi-instrumentalist Danger Mouse and Mark Linkous of Sparklehorse are two of the most inspired and imaginative artists making music today. Together, they've crafted a masterpiece of both style and substance. To be sure, the music is often strange and gloomy. There's pain and madness. But David Lynch, director of "Blue Velvet" and "Twin Peaks" is involved, so what do you expect?


Unidentified Man #1 (Singer): (Singing) (Unintelligible).

HILTON: But even with a name like "Dark Night of the Soul," the album has some uplifting moments with catchy pop and rock hooks. It's richly orchestrated with layers of ambient sounds, infectious rhythms and sing-along harmonies. It's the perfect marriage of joy and sorrow.


Unidentified Man #2 (Singer): (Singing) (Unintelligible).

HILTON: Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse wrote the songs on "Dark Night of the Soul," but they got a bunch of other musicians to sing the tracks like Iggy Pop, James Mercer of The Shins, Vic Chesnutt and Jason Lytle of Grandaddy.


Unidentified Man #3 (Singer): (Singing) Jacob, it's time for you to wake up and accept your award. Inside, inside your little (unintelligible).

HILTON: And don't forget director David Lynch. Danger Mouse says he always wanted to work with Lynch, so he asked the filmmaker to make a book of surreal photos inspired by the music. The images show distorted human figures and scenes of suggested violence, like a gun lying on a table. Lynch also actually sings on the album.


DAVID LYNCH: (Singing) Shine, shine, shine...

HILTON: "Dark Night of the Soul" is poised to be one of the year's most memorable records. But don't rush out to buy it any time soon. The release of the album is being held up because of an unspecified legal dispute between Danger Mouse and EMI Records. Danger Mouse says he still plans to release the book of David Lynch photos with a blank, recordable CD. The disk will be labeled: For legal reasons, enclosed CD contains no music. Use it as you will.

While the official release is unclear, "Dark Night of the Soul" has already made its way to the Internet. Various sites started leaking songs online last week, and you can hear the music with permission from the artist on Dark Night of the Soul is a beautifully produced record with a remarkable cast of musicians behind it. Listen while you can.


BLOCK: That's NPR music producer Robin Hilton reviewing the album "Dark Night of the Soul."


BLOCK: (Singing) (Unintelligible) I guess it's a matter of sensation. But somehow you have (unintelligible).

BLOCK: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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