Thursday, 15 September 2016

Throwback Thursday Review: David Lynch's Crazy Clown Time

I've been doing a clear out recently in anticipation of moving out of my current abode and into a shiny new flat and stumbled upon some old newspaper clippings from my University days. I used to write film and music reviews for the student paper and when Lynch released his Crazy Clown Time album I jumped at the chance to write about it. I know it's old news but thought it worth sharing as it was such a brilliant album and re-reading the review I wrote, I can't help but notice how eloquently I used to write when I was a student of academia...! I better sharpen up my pencils and try a little harder on future posts!

Peak Performance - David Lynch's Crazy Clown Time

It may seem surprising that film maker David Lynch, the surreal all-American visionary, has just released d├ębut solo album Crazy Clown Time. But sound has always played an integral part in Lynch’s films and his varied oeuvre doesn't stop at film and music but also includes a Parisian nightclub, his own signature coffee brand, paintings and sculpture, even a furniture collection. This album has been a long time coming.


Lynch has always emphasised the great importance of auditory aspects of his films claiming that music is often the origin for most of his ideas. He has even stated: “people call me a director, but I really think of myself as a sound man.” Godard-esque unexpected musical interludes are common in his work, as are unsettling industrial sound effects and a mixture of equally stylish and darkly atmospheric soundtracks. Over the years he has closely collaborated with many significant names: multi-award winning composer Angelo Badalamenti has scored the soundtracks of the majority of his films, Lynch penned the lyrics for singer Julie Cruise’s album Floating Into The Night after she sang on the opening titles for Lynch’s hit TV drama Twin Peaks, Chris Isaak shot to fame after Lynch directed his music video for Wicked Games and featured him on theWild At Heart soundtrack and more recently he directed a Duran Duran concert for the internet.

The musicianship on Crazy Clown Time is entirely Lynch, apart from the killer opening track Pinky’s Dream to which Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ front woman Karen O lends her vocals. She sounds fabulously seductive, and its a good way to ease in the sceptics before some of the more ‘experimental’ tracks appear and Lynch’s own distorted vocals kick in. Crazy Clown Time mostly offers a dark, moody, hypnotic blues which is entirely evocative of the Lynch universe. But there are a couple of surprisingly upbeat electro-pop tracks in amongst the more quintessential Lynchian fare, like the frothy Good Day Today, which is already popular on the dance floors of Ibiza.

Lynch’s vocals are distorted and range from a raspy whisper to inane and occasionally irritating whines; at times one wonders if the ‘Czar of Bizarre’ is singing with some blue velvet stuffed into his mouth. His voice, which Mel Brook’s infamously once described to be like ‘Jimmy Stewart from Mars’, is not always pleasant on the ears. Track seven titled Strange and Unproductive Thinking lasts an unbearable seven and a half minutes consisting of Lynch mumbling on about transcendental meditation (for which he is an avid spokesperson) through a vocoder machine.

Crazy Clown Time, like all of Lynch’s work, is not for everyone, yet will inspire and stimulate some, particularly fans. Much of the album feels like the perfect soundtrack to a Lynch film which is yet to be made. Although his first official solo experiment is far from disastrous, lets hope that this is not a permanent leave of absence from what he does best.

Crazy Clown Time

David Lynch

Fat Possum Records

4/5