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Sparkle Hard

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Alex Crowton, director of a new documentary about Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous, admits it would be easy to sensationalise the life of the troubled musician, who took his own life in 2010. “But we tried to shy away from that,” says Crowton. “We wanted to focus on the music and make it about his amazing records.”

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Prior to his death, Virginia native Linkous had built up a unique body of work. Elements of gothic country permeated his five studio albums, as did a love of melancholy rock, lo-fi sensibilities and a punk spirit – all combined with a voice that was as ghostly and delicate as it was weathered and rusty. “He was an incredibly talented writer and musician,” says singer-songwriter Gemma Hayes, who appears in the film, alongside Linkous collaborators David Lynch, Mercury Rev, John Parish, Grandaddy and Adrian Utley.

Linkous’s proclivity for using cheap, broken or junk-shop instruments added an often eerie tone to his work. “He seemed to see life in what most people would describe as dead things,” says Hayes. “This made his music very profound, strange and darkly beautiful.”

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