A Lynchian Adventure of Musical Surrealism

We all know David Lynch is a bit strange. To be honest, I’m hesitant to even follow him on Twitter or read the entirety of his Wikipedia page. With films like Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive under his belt, as well as his hit television seriesTwin Peaks, Lynch initially seems like a man who directs inherently dark, moving films, and whose characters seem slightly hokey. A woman who has a concussion and can’t remember who she is, taken in by a naive Naomi Watts? Right. A typical college boy who stumbles into an underground world of prostitution and crime, only to fall in love with the standard girl next door? Sure. But this is the beauty of David Lynch. The ability to take a normal situation and inject it with surrealism, so that an audience instantly relates, yet is still in awe and perhaps slightly confused – this is the stuff Lynchian films are made of.

Lynch’s ability to create surreal scenarios has inched into other art forms, the most recent being his foray into the musical world with album Crazy Clown Time, which was released on 8th November. Having collaborated with Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse on the compilation album Dark Night of the Soul in 2008, Crazy Clown Time is a debut album emerging from expectations nursed throughout the past decade. The first track, a collaboration with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Karen O, Pinky’s Dream is an intriguing introduction to the album. Karen O’s characteristic yelps and the soft whispers of "Please Pinky watch the road" are set strongly against the background of steady reverb guitar which reaches a crescendo – and a Karen O shriek – at the end of the track. Such an abrupt ending leaves the listener wondering if Pinky perhaps didn’t watch the road, and so the darkness of Lynchian artistry emerges…

After this first track, the Lynchian nature of the album is allowed to take centre stage through his vocals and dark, contemplative lyrics. Just as Blue Velvet served as a meditative, creeping commentary on modern society, so does Crazy Clown Time. InStrange and Unproductive Thinking, Lynch’s voice is mechanically distorted, set against the backdrop of a steady drum beat and sliding blues guitar – a dichotomy that is only heightened by the monotonous lyrics which range from subjects, such as tooth decay to the concept of natural law. The most striking element of this album is Lynch’s range of vocals. While monotonous in Strange and Unproductive Thinking, his voice assumes an almost cat-like meow in the eponymous track Crazy Clown Time.

The surrealist nature of Lynch’s work reveals itself fully in the last track, She Rise Up, as his whispers of "She came with me/I was all she had/For a while" assume an almost dreamlike quality with the use of slow, rhythmic guitar and soft synthetic effects, as he continues, "But she rise up/Shining like the sun." Though melancholic, this song is simultaneously inspiring, offering an insight on the human nature of love found and love lost.

There’s no doubt in my mind that this album is not for everyone. As my flat-mate so eruditely put it, "people with ears should not be subjected to this." Whilst I found certain tracks difficult to handle, I found others brilliantly crafted, such asNoah’s Ark, which conjured up images of underground, trippy club scenes. Nothing on this album should be considered ‘easy listening,’ and it’s worth listening to the album from start to finish rather than skipping through separate tracks. However, though the work of David Lynch will never appeal to everyone, the fact that he has maintained such an intriguing and distinctive style in both his films and his music is something to admire, even if Crazy Clown Time is perhaps not for you.

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