David Lynch “Crazy Clown Time” – Viva Music Album Review

November 28, 2011 in Album Reviews

Tracklist: “Pinky’s Dream” * “Good Day Today” * “So Glad” * “Noah’s Ark” * “Football Game” * “I Know” * “Strange and Unproductive Thinking” * “The Night Bell with Lightning” * “Stone’s Gone Up” * “Crazy Clown Time” * “These Are My Friends” * “Speed Roadster” * “Movin’ On” * “She Rise Up

David Lynch – “Crazy Clown Time” – Viva Music Album Review:

The debut album from world-famous director David Lynch, if we conveniently close an eye to his work in the soundtrack of his own movies, “Crazy Clown Time” has been out for two weeks already, being released on Nov-07 with Sunday Best Records/Play It Again Sam, but we think it takes at least two weeks – just to be lenient with such an important issue – of constant listening to the album in order to make sure you’re not that kind of sloppy listener who misses the right influences and tone of the album. While it is true that the jingle the name of David Lynch carries about it is sufficient to get your ears pricked from the word go, it is also true that such an album is worthy of consideration from a number of perspectives that can only enhance, and never diminish, the merits of the album.

Two of the songs from the album are not novel auditions; “Good Day Today” and “I Know”, with their sequin-harsh surface, were released just one year ago, not a real appetizer, but a good standpoint for the work that was going to be unveiled. With basically only good reviews (“it transfers something of Lynch’s uncanny cinema to the musical medium”, “everyday, avant-garde vision” are some examples of conceptual criticism of the album), “Crazy Clown Time” is set, as the title well puts it, in its own, special time. It is not unlikely that the album be less well received in the electropop, ambient-loving crowd, because it is carried through straight and long conduits of blues-y and melancholy melody, but in a firm coating of electronic, temperature resistant material.

Pinky’s Dream”, the opening track that features vocals from Karen Lee Orzolek (better known as The Yeah Yeah YeahsKaren O) induces a cool that is at the same time cinematic and minimal. Verbally pertinent for an opening track (there’s vent of pathfinding and watchfulness), “Pinky’s Dream” carries on atmosphere and anticipates it its melodic knit the outburst of “Good Day Today”, which sounds like a delayed trance, not deprived of its individuality, and resorting to oracular language. On the same topic of positivity, “So Glad” sounds tongue-in-cheek in its outside makeup, but deeper veins of sensibility throb behind that. With the same slo mo tempo of previous tracks, combining the soundtrack for a funeral and a victory dance in a very unsettling manner.

Noah’s Ark” breaks a little through the continuum of previous tracks and dons a ticking, fazed beat that makes us think that, however similar to film music it may be, it has to have a life of its own without any movie whatsoever. The beat could have performed well in a movie, after all. After Lynch‘s voice distort, it’s time for his whispered voice, in an unveiling process that is meant to show the multifaceted impact of voice on musicality. The uncanny reigns in “Football Game” – a song that brought to mind the ghostly magic work of Tom Waits with Scarlett Johansson. Intent on keeping up a common foundation for the tracks of the album, Lynch, now closer to a full voice, is not giving up being stormy and at a more cadenced pace he goes for “I Know”, with its modern gospel atmosphere diluting into “Strange and Unproductive Thinking”, a track that plays with stream of consciousness narrative (the lyrics of the song well fill two pages and more) in an attempt to capture the discontent, and unsettledness of the mind bombed with issues both inherent and exterior to it, unable to negotiate solutions and unable to sort out what is relevant and what is not. A narrative effort well provided musically with a torturing melodic background, “Strange and Unproductive Thinking” will be appeased by the conceptual “Night Bell with Lightning” and by the more upbeat “Stone’s Gone Up”, a whispered voice revival of previous work on the album, but one that would also fit nicely and smoothly in a playlist of sorts with “Shot in the Back of the Head” (Moby‘s collaboration with David Lynch of some years ago).

The track that gives the name of the album, “Crazy Clown Time” delivers in Lynch‘s crooning voice a return to the ambient of previous tracks, with a crowded, carnivalesque sound. An atmospheric melody, “Crazy Clown Time” is drunken carousal gone bad in the backyard, with real people turning into clownish figures who no longer hold together. Once this cinematic vignette is checked, the album returns to the blues electronic sounds that are trademarked by the album with “These Are My Friends” and “Speed Roadster”, both very Lynchesque if they were movies and now certainly Lynchesque songs. “Movin’ On” reverberates and fashions up against the same unsettledness of the album, while “She Rise Up” concludes the album work with a heart-rending story about the transitoriness and brevity of life in what clearly is a Lynch script.

Crazy Clown Town” is well beyond the experiment some needed or were curious about, what music thought up by a movie director sounds like. There are of course clear discourse markers of the director in the album, with very visual pieces, short movies in themselves, but there is also an acuity to sound that does not belong to the director; in its turn it creates atmosphere and impact. Enjoy!

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