Lunatic Funster Instance & Stated Rolling Stock
So now the dust has settled, the smoke receded, the hype faded, and the songs having had a chance to insinuate themselves into my subconscious like strange and wonderful worms from some other place, just how good is David Lynch’s recent musical output?
Crazy Clown Time
I wonder if opener ‘Pinky’s Dream’, with its twanging, otherworldly guitars and driving rhythm, (fronted by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O) is in some way connected to ‘Pinky’s Bubble Egg’ from 1993’s Industrial Symphony No.1:
(Perverse I know to review an album with a track that is not on that album and in fact appeared 17 years prior but… hey ho)
If so, it seems this “short, stocky, yet twisted-looking male gnome” is perhaps now behind the wheel of a car, or dreams he is, and is travelling on darker, perhaps dangerous roads…
In fact I think the tracks on Crazy Clown Time can be seen as a series of (interconnected? connected?) snapshots or scenes from some non-linear Lynch narrative that exist to allow a short dip into strange worlds… but then this could be the definition of any song… couldn’t it?
I’ve already spoken of my dislike of ‘Good Day Today’ (which I have to say has abated a little, due to two acts since having used it wonderfully at The Double R Club) and my contention that ‘dance music’ so called is in fact the grey goo of the music world; however, as a ‘scene’ in the audio narrative of Crazy Clown Time it makes much more sense as a lighter moment in a beautiful sea of shadow, and as it appears as track 2 is not used as some kind of sickly deus ex machina “it’s all ok after all” ending to the album.
But I’m not going to do a track-by-track review, we’ve all got better things to be doing with our lives… Just a few highlights… An early favourite of mine was the typically Lynchian ‘Noah’s Ark’, with its simple refrain of “I know a song to sing on this dark night… It’s the song of love” -this mixing of the dark and the light so intrinsically Lynch… ‘Football Game’ sounds like Lynch is speaking while playing that game when you try to eat 10 cream crackers without drinking any water (and is all the more sinister when he says “you better run, baby, I hope you can”)… ‘Strange And Unproductive Thinking’ is like some relentless space-age mantra or clarion cry for reason in an age of chaos… ‘The Night Bell With Lightning’ is a beautifully crafted bluesy instrumental that could easily accompany Audrey Horne’s perambulations down the corridors of your dreams… Title track ‘Crazy Clown Time’ is like a nightmare of a children’s party gone horribly awry and populated with hysterical adults…
Where Lynch perhaps falls down (and I think why some reviews will maybe be less than glowing: “with the title ‘Strange And Unproductive Thinking’, Lynch writes his own reviews.” ** – Uncut), is with melody, and more specifically vocal melody; but then with this album, the music is not so much about melody as it is about mood. Melody is most in evidence with ‘Pinky’s Dream’ -this perhaps being O’s instinct as a singer to impose her own tune- but this shouldn’t stop appreciation of an album which is a great extension of Lynch’s vision of shadow and shade, of light and wonderful, bottomless darknesses…
This Train (with Chrysta Bell)
Although to be fair, this is a Chrysta Bell album produced and co-written by Lynch; Chrysta Bell of course, the voice behind the vertiginous ‘Polish Poem’ which appeared on the Inland Empire soundtrack (and also appears on This Train).
This album for me is less successful, as it feels a little more monotone in mood. Bell clearly has an amazing voice (and far be it for me, as someone who has anything but, to criticise) but it is a voice that can lack edge when tasked with being a tad bluesier, stranger, or even having more expressive range.
‘Real Love’ stomps a little more than most tracks, adding colour and a touch of dissonance, yet I can’t help but be reminded of a singing teacher I knew years ago coaching us in a production of Grease, singing, with impeccable diction: “We go together like rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga a dong” which kinda missed the feel and intent of the song; and made us all laugh a great deal…
My clear favourite on the album is ‘Bird Of Flames’ which pairs Lynch’s own whispered vocal with Bell’s somnabulant crooning: “Love is a bird of flames coming into a dark world…”
Unlike Crazy Clown Time, the most upbeat and commercial sounding track on This Train (the 80s pop-lite and pretty cheesy ‘The Truth Is’) is saved for the end of the album as if, and perhaps this is just me, having been set aside to serve as a balm for any excessive melancholy or darkness stirred up by what preceded it; which is a shame I think as it seems to allude to a lack of confidence in the audience’s ability to handle the darker side of things without a little pat on the head at the end.
But take the tracks individually (as I believe you young folks do these days anyway -don’t get me started) and many of them possess an inarguable dreamy loveliness that is hard to ignore…