David Lynch and Marek Zebrowski

Polish Night Music

by John Garratt

11 December 2015

An American film director and a Polish composer joins forces to make cold, austere music worthy of, say, a David Lynch film.
 
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David Lynch and Marek Zebrowski

Polish Night Music

(Sacred Bones)
US: 13 Nov 2015
UK: 27 Nov 2015

Polish Night Music is not like the recent musical endeavors of filmmaker-turned-singer-songwriter David Lynch. On this one, he hands all of his confidence over to his collaborator, Polish composer Marek Zebrowski. The music comes in the form of four lengthy, atmospheric tracks spanning an hour and seventeen minutes. Entirely instrumental, Polish Night Music never breaks from the mold of quiet minimalism. Originally released in 2008, this large piece of bold politeness is now being reissued on two pieces of vinyl. Why a second release seven years after the fact? Probably because so many people are into vinyl right now—unless we are in the middle of a neo-classical/minimalist zeitgeist that no one bothered mentioning.

While working together on the set of Inland Empire, Zebrowski and Lynch discovered that they had a great deal of common musical interests. The legendary director to invited the composer to Los Angeles for a little impromptu musical experimentation. No press material makes clear who is doing what on these tracks, but slowly improvised piano is a common thread. The eerie electronic noises surrounding providing a cushion for the sparse piano is reminiscent the chill given off by so many of Lynch’s films like Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive. If the opening track “Night-City Back Street” set the scene with gentle piano, the ambiance of doom takes over for the next track, “Night-A Landscape with Factory”. At 26-plus minutes, “Night-Interiors” buries both sound elements so deeply at times you have to struggle to hear them. A sense of cohesion runs secondary to mood, though that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. “[Poland] is a landscape that continues to remain at once familiar and completely alien to me,” Zebrowski admits of his homeland. “Every time I am there, I am surprised by something.” In that sense, Polish Night Music could be the soundtrack to being lost when you thought you knew where you were going all along. Zebrowski then goes on to explain Lynch’s yin for his yang by explaining “for David, Poland certainly represents the process of discovery.” One man’s confusion with the familiar is another man’s thrill of discovery.

As “Night-A Woman on a Dark Street Corner” rolls you to the end, it may strike you that these four tracks do not sound different enough from one another to warrant their length and, ultimately, inclusion on a commercial release. I’ll grant that this is the case if you listen to Polish Night Music through laptop speakers or something equally as weak. To say that it’s a headphone album is an understatement. You need to turn up the volume after plugging in your headphones. All of the lighter-than-air bits and pieces are waiting for you to let them bounce around inside your head. Searching for order will likely frustrate you. If you’re predisposed to the sub-genre where neo-classical meets ambient minimalism, then you probably already suspected (rightly) that Polish Night Music is a means and not an end. It’s the meeting of sound and meditation that asks for nothing in return. It also goes down a lot easier than other albums out there.

Polish Night Music

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