Album Review: David Lynch – Crazy Clown Time

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B- | 11.08.11 | Sunday Best/PIAS | Stream | MP3 | CD | Vinyl

I had no idea David Lynch was David Fucking Lynch. It’s one of those names you hear tossed around by hipsters at a bodega or someone who starts pontificating about “this guy” while he’s coming down off a midnight bender. This guy has among a million other things: helped score arguably one of the most poignant intros to a network show ever (sorry Jan Hammer), raised over a million dollars and counting for a “7 billion dollar” Transcendental Meditation Center and directed Dune which didn’t supplement Sting’s income a whole lot. All anyone can say is “Well,damn…”.

In short, Lynch is an expressionistic tour de force. A post-modern Renaissance man who has built a career around tapping into the collective subconscious with remarkable precision. Of course his first solo album is called Crazy Clown Time right? Then again, this shouldn’t be all too shocking considering 1977’s Eraserhead started a cult following on the midnight B-movie circuit. Serious content with ridiculous titles. Or is it all one giant illusion? No one will ever know the machinations of his enigmatic mind and best we keep it that way.

Watching the featurette on the making of This Train, the album he produced and wrote with talented lolita Chrysta Bell, you get a small inkling of how strangely efficient his brain really is. She says he creates “beds of music” which serve as aural mattresses for her to slowly sink into. I imagine similar methods were employed for Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to assume the role of a tortured specter on opening track “Pinky’s Dream”. The high notes she hits are eerily reminiscent of Pylon’s Vanessa Briscoe Hay on “Cool”.

Lynch’s meticulous, crystalline sound design rears its chilling head on “Noah’s Ark”. Following a wash of hazy synths, a clearly delineated metronome begins clicking away. It’s buttressed by a groovy as hell bass line running parallel at half-tempo. It’s elemental on every level. Repetition becomes exhilarating. Sound is followed, not cornered and trapped. Midway through a clip of soft showers drizzles on the syncopated line “It’s the song/of love” which is nearly impossible to remove from your head on any dreary fall day.

Beginning to distance himself from the electro pop, hurtling toward distorted Depression-era blues, we arrive at “Football Game” and “These Are My Friends”. The former would likely be crackling out of a jukebox in West Texas if Leadbelly and The Hombres footed a double bill that very night. The latter is on the same pinnacle of crushing as anything off Johnny Cash’s American IV: The Man Comes Around. You can literally see his acceptance of utter despondency when he sputters off in a slow steady twang “I got a trunk/And a single bed/Got a stove/Got a table/Painted Red/Got some beers/Got two good ears and my eye on you.”

These gems do the majority of the heavy lifting. Sometimes we’ll roll an ankle over the ostentatious and downright dysfunctional title track and we probably shouldn’t try and probe for any deeper meaning in the cybernetic spoken word of “Strange and Unproductive Things” which could only be conjured up via a meta-Nirvana most of us can barely comprehend. Ultimately it hangs on a theme similar to that of No Country for Old Men — that even the jester gets old after awhile.

Stream ‘Crazy Clown Time’ in its entirety here. Download “Pinky’s Dream” featuring Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O here.

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