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A Strange and Unproductive Review (plus, a bonus review: CRAZY CLOWN TIME'S Parallel Identity Crisis),
This review is from: Crazy Clown Time [Explicit] (Audio CD)
David Lynch's favorite number is seven. Look at the CD cover art and add up the numbers on the dice in his hand. This dice also appears on the back cover and in another shot inside the CD booklet - again, tally up the numbers. And if you're feeling REALLY ambitious or bored, go back and look at the photo art DL provided for the DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL album. You'll see there's a shot of two die, and their numbers add up to... Also note that the record has fourteen songs, seven on side A, seven on side B. And don't forget there are seven notes on the musical scale - A through G (not counting sharps and flats, 'course).
That is all.
OK, so let me first clear the air by announcing that I am in fact a heavily biased David Lynch fan. I approach this record from the perspective of someone who's avidly followed his musical career, which began in earnest with 2006's INLAND EMPIRE soundtrack, and continued full steam ahead with the DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL project.
I remember despising Lynch's INLAND EMPIRE the first time I watched it (I've since come around), but was intrigued enough by one of the songs that I scanned the closing credits to see who performed it. To my total surprise I found that the writer and performer of this otherworldly and creepy-catchy tune was none other than David Lynch himself, his voice electronically filtered beyond recognition.
A continued inspection of the credits revealed that Lynch not only performed the film's two best songs ("Ghosts of Love" and "Polish Poem"), but also provided the uber-spooky and distinctive synthesizer score.
I thunk: "This guy's GOOD!"
Just couldn't help but be impressed by how much he'd stepped up his musical game since the self-titled BLUE BOB record, which was a collaborative effort with David Neff. Some of the BB songs appear on the MULHOLLAND DR. soundtrack, and while they are undeniably effective - especially the way he incorporates them into the film - they're nothing to get too sweaty over.
Anyways, our hero's next major step was to design the artwork and provide two new tracks for the aforementioned DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL project, which also featured The Flaming Lips, Iggy Pop, Frank Black, Suzanne Vega, and numerous other fringe-pop luminaries. Again DL's songs were both standouts, in spite of the fact he was essentially a fifty(sixty?)-something newcomer competing with artists ranging from the newly established to the legendary.
Something was happening.
Enter CRAZY CLOWN TIME.
Preceded many months by the fantastic single, "Good Day" / "I Know" - both of which are included here on CCT - this 68 minute epic is easily Lynch's crowning acheivement so far as a musician. A work of twisted, playful, and unassuming genius.
Here's a quick and incomplete breakdown:
"Pinky's Dream" commences the journey in grand style, thanks in large part to the urgent and expressive vocal talents of YEAH YEAH YEAHS frontwoman Karen O. Darkly intense, but undeniably fun, "Pinky's" rides hard and fast along a lost highway of menacing, echo-laden Lynch-riffs.
Next up is the impressively danceable "Good Day Today" which sounds something like a hybrid between Moby and Air. Techno-rock heaven, in other words, and yet another bold new development in Lynch's mercurial musical artistry. LOVE this tune.
But CRAZY CLOWN's perverse centerpiece is the aptly labeled "Strange and Unproductive Thinking," which features four increasingly mind-melting rants about expanding consciousness, quasi-scientific inquiry, runaway tooth decay, and too many other opaquely interrelated musings in between for me to mention or even comprehend. Lynch delivers this inscrutable monologue in his Kraftwerk-esque electro-vocals over an addictive and super-cool mid-tempo beat. You thought Lynch was weird before? Wait'll you hear this.
Moving along, the title track is a hilarious and twisted white-trash nursery rhyme for the clinically deranged. And don't let yourself be put off by vocals, because this one will win you over once it gets cooking.
Other standouts include the heartfelt "These Are My Friends," the sociopathic "Speed Roadster," and the elegiac "She Rise Up."
All in all, I have nothing but good to say about this record. It occurs to me that DL's guitar style resembles Neil Young and Crazy Horse's feedback-heavy approach. Ever heard NY's guitar score for Jim Jarmusch's DEAD MAN? Well CRAZY CLOWN has a similar sound.
It's also interesting how his lyrics always have a certain playful quality to them, even when he's singing about the philisophical underpinnings of Transcendential Meditation or contemplating murderous impulses. The man has a unique perspective on life, and it shows.
But I can't honestly say this record is going to be for everybody - you'll probably need a uncommonly open mind, a fine appreciation for shadowcast abstraction, and an acquired taste for the flat-out bizarre. Assuming you don't have all these traits to begin with, which begs the question...why would you even bother reading this long-winded and self-indulgent record review if you didn't?
No I think if you made it this far, you've got everything it takes to unleashe your own inner Crazy Clown and safely bliss your way through the arousing and unsettling aural weird-world of Lynchlandia.
DL has a habit of saying, "Let's rock." Let's.
CRAZY CLOWN TIME's Parallel Identity Crisis
Split personality is one of the ubiquitous themes found in David Lynch's films, so is it any surprise that his debut LP suffers from what the man himself might call "parallel identity crisis"?
A close listen to this record reveals that it is actually two records, seven songs each, mashed into one schizophrenically mind-divided beast. For those familiar with DL's LOST HIGHWAY, you might say that one of these records would appeal more to jazz musician Fred Madison, while the other might appeal more to grease-monkey Pete Dayton.
Record number one features seven songs written from the deranged perspective of a sociopathic hillbilly. All of these songs are primarily guitar-driven and, taken together, tell a gonzo tale of redneck love, lust, betrayal, jealousy, hatred, fast cars, and psychosis.
My preferred tracklisting is as follows:
1. Pinky's Dream
2. I Know
3. So Glad
4. Football Game
5. Crazy Clown Time
6. These Are My Friends
7. Speed Roadster
OK, now record #2's songs are are all written from the perspective of a very odd, sensitive, cerebral, and frequently spaced-out individual. The music is largely dominated by synthesizers and electronic beats, but also a smattering of Lynch's distinctive guitar-work. The lyrics here betray a much greater sense of intelligence and optimism than the material from the other set of songs, and the extreme hillbilly accent is gone from the vocals.
So this is one way to arrange the songs for record #2:
1. Good Day Today
2. Noah's Ark
3. Stone's Gone Up
4. Strange and Unproductive Thinking
5. Nightbell With Lightning
6. Movin' On
7. She Rise Up
Both albums feel like complete experiences unto themselves, and are well worth hearing separately.
Five stars each.
P.S. Also check out Chrysta Bell's sublime THIS TRAIN for yet a third side of David Lynch's unique musical genius...
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 13, 2011 10:51:13 PM PST
M Lee says:
A Ringmaster Review. Yes, we Lynch fans want to collectively pitch a tent. Under the big top everybody. Lynch's best effort.
Posted on Nov 22, 2011 7:07:09 PM PST
Spunk Monkey says:
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahh aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaa hhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh ahha ahah haha haah aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
Posted on Feb 9, 2012 1:00:54 AM PST
Paul R Wick says:
Posted on Feb 23, 2012 6:03:43 AM PST
Hey, Boy! Good review...recommend This Train by Chrysta Bell. You've probably got it....
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 23, 2012 5:37:38 AM PDT
Spiraling Blue Fire says:
The black dog runs at night.
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