“I FEEL MYSELF START TO SMILE…”

And  F I N A L L Y  the release of the Lynch / Badalamenti Thought Gang album!

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Ever since the cover appeared on the old DavidLynch.com site all those years ago I’ve been itching to hold this record in my hot little hands.

The Thought Gang track ‘A Real Indication’ (featured in Fire Walk With Me) was the first Lynch song I ever performed at the first ever Double R Club (which celebrates its 100th show this month!) and I still love it’s odd, chugging-along Tom Waits-esque junk-funk and Badalamenti’s hernia-inducing (seriously), off-kilter and manic vocalisations; I still love performing it with my trusty megaphone at Lynch events from time to time. Besides the other Thought Gang track featured in FWWM, the threatening dirge of bass and whistling winds ‘The Black Dog Runs At Night’, for so many years now we’d heard nothing further of this project’s output.

Decades later, the album does not disappoint. But beware and be aware: this is not the toe-tapping twang-fest of Lynch’s other musical output, it’s more an epic expedition into the nightmarish, dark corners of jazz and the avant-garde. This album truly is among the darkest of dreams…

Opener ‘Stalin Revisited’ twitches with jittery high-hat and bursts of scraping sounds reverbed all the way to hell and back, eventually breaking into resonant notes of foreboding cello. This leads to ‘Logic And Common Sense’, arguably the most coherent or traditional track on the album, certainly the most traditionally jazzy (at least to begin with) -a kind of noir soundtrack to a film where the shit has just hit the fan, a chase begins, or chaos breaks out; Badalamenti narrates a strange tale of “men wearing suits racing lawnmowers.” If this was anyone else’s (albeit imaginary) film soundtrack, this track would likely act as the denouement, some catastrophic event to mark the crescendo of the story -in Lynch’s imaginary film, however, this is of course only the beginning, the catalyst that augurs the dark chaos to come.

‘One Dog Bark’ chugs along like a forerunner to ‘A Real Indication’, finger-clicks and buzzing guitar promising further descent, which is followed by ‘Woodcutters From Fiery Ships‘ a deliciously Lynchian dream of Pete, the strange and terrible things he saw, and the beings that then came for him… It’s a crashing and deranged track of stuttering jazz percussion and Badalamenti’s walky-talky vocal relating a tale of beings from some other realm, perhaps reminiscent of the scorched woodsmen from TP:TR?

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The aforementioned ‘A Real Indication’ gives way to ‘Jack Paints It Red’, which ups the sonic disorder still further, Lynch’s garbled, barked and distant vocals crying out “I can’t breathe!”

‘A Meaningless Conversation’ is a lumbering, vertiginous march which plays at being a love song but sounds like anything but, as Badalamenti whines “Hey, hey, baby, This is really love” before ending by screaming “scratch away the smell and then see it for real!”

‘Frank 2000 Prelude’ is a bass-heavy, rolling threat of a track, promising darker things just around the corner, which gives way for ‘Multi-Tempo Wind Boogie’ with its atmospheres of rhythmic, backwards cymbals, drones, tones and far off echoes of things to come.

‘The Black Dog Runs At Night’, though previously head in FWWM, fits into the album perfectly and continues what seems to the be the slow dissembling of the album into further nightmare, the gradual falling apart of recognisable song structure.

While studying the credits on Twin Peaks: The Return I was excited to see another Thought Gang track listed and was therefore disappointed and bemused that said track didn’t make it onto either of the TP:TR soundtrack albums; now I know why.

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The track in question, ‘Frank 2000’, is 16:41 long and is a sprawling soundscape of drones, waves of sound, crashing noise, keyboard stabs and finally, as the track crawls towards its end, percussion forces its way back in before giving way once more to tsunamis of bottomless sound.

Final track ‘Summer Night Noise’ brings the album to a close with more dread-inducing waves and cavernous sounds of distant collision and catastrophe in faraway dream worlds.

On first listen I thought perhaps the coupling together of these last two tracks felt like an odd choice as far as the pace or dynamics of the album as a whole, but with further forays into the record, into Thought Gang’s worlds (and worlds within worlds), it feels more like the album starts with uptempo, anxious and edgy jazz and devolves slowly, almost falling apart at times but never quite losing cohesion, eventually dissolving into a wonderful and disorientating nightmare; and there’s nothing more Lynchian than that.

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~ by benjaminlouche on November 5, 2018.

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