Music

David Lynch: Crazy Clown Time

The world is a scary place these days but Crazy Clown Time is not. David Lynch excels at darkly surreal visual expression as a musical consultant, but his position as a solo musical artist is still in question.


David Lynch

Crazy Clown Time

Label: PIAS
US Release Date: 2011-11-08
UK Release Date: 2011-11-07
Artist Website
Amazon
iTunes

Nothing quite compares to the dark force that is David Lynch. The noir filmmaker is currently in search of new profound visions through music. A few musical projects have worn his stamp in the past. He has worked with Angelo Badalamenti (Twin Peaks), pianist Marek Zebrowski (Inland Empire), and recently collaborated with Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse on the album and artwork for Dark Night of the Soul.

But Crazy Clown Time marks his first attempt at a solo musical project. All the tracks were written, performed and produced by Lynch at his home studio with engineer Dean Hurley. There is no doubt that many will find themselves listening to this album out of sheer curiosity. After all, David Lynch has morphed into a brand, even creating his own coffee blend, which is for purchase on his website. Crazy Clown Time is the kind of novelty that on the surface feels authentic because we have all come to embrace Lynch as an eccentric who cannot be contained. But in this case, he should have contained himself a little more.

All of the songs on Crazy Clown Time can roughly be divided into two types of production aesthetic. Soggy computer produced loops/effects and the use of real instruments with a blues twinge on the second half of the disc. Lynch has stated that, “All of the songs on the album started as a jam. The jams eventually found a form and lyrics appeared”, and that sounds about right. The addition of vocals by the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O on “Pinky’s Dream” do little to kidnap the listener and steer them towards the road Lynch wants them on.

The second track, “Good Day Today”, is an example of how most of the tunes are under-developed and leave the listener on a highway to nowhere. Maybe this is where Lynch wants to lead us. I wouldn’t put it past him. But there is little here to convince us of this musically. “Good Day Today” and “So Glad” sound like music produced by a non-musician. That can be a good thing in some cases, but it comes across as amateurish on this album. There is no nuance in the layering of the various electronic elements on the first half of the album, especially compared with what someone like James Blake is currently doing with electronic sound.

The height of this stream of consciousness comes in the form of the track ironically titled “Strange and Unproductive Thinking”, which is exactly what it is. This applies to the lyrics as well. Lynch’s simple and repetitive lyrics are meant to be directly emotive, but come across sounding juvenile. From “Ball and chain gone / Ball and chain gone / Ball and chain gone”, on the track “So Glad”, to “On this dark dark nigh t/ a song of love / a song of love”, on “Noah’s Ark”, his hushed vocals are overwhelmed with effects and fall flat.

In the midst of these disappointments there are a few things that work. “Football Game” is the kind of music David Lynch should be making. The crunchy re-verb guitar sounds and more defined vocals have heart. This kind of edgy blues fits his temperament and may be what he’s trying to accomplish on Crazy Clown Time. The track is repetitive but compelling. One wishes he would have tapped into this kind of gritty blues more. “The Night Bell With Lightning” promises more of this, but never develops.

All that to say, the second half of the album is the better half. It is admittedly more creepy and the song structures are better. The dirge-like movement of “Movin’ On” works as Lynch settles into a voice that serves the music and ebbs with the undercurrent of the music. Then, in a completely unnecessary move, Lynch rocks a vocoder on the last track, “She Rise Up”, which sounds like a musical continuation of the previous track, “Movin’ On”. The last track is representative of the overused effects on his vocals. He projects so many different personas through the use of effects that they become uninteresting. They result in unconnected sonic experiments that never make a cohesive artistic statement.

Crazy Clown Time is clouded with studio experiments that attempt to hold up weak songs. I hate to make this comparison, but most of the songs on this album are not as unsettling and subversively abrasive as his films. The world is a scary place these days but Crazy Clown Time is not. David Lynch excels at darkly surreal visual expression and as a musical consultant, but his position as a solo musical artist is still in question.

4
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

Ivy Mix's 'Spirits of Latin America' Evokes the Ancestors

A common thread unites Ivy Mix's engaging Spirits of Latin America; "the chaotic intermixture between indigenous and European traditions" is still an inextricable facet of life for everyone who inhabits the "New World".

Film

Contemporary Urbanity and Blackness in 'New Jack City'

Hood films are a jarring eviction notice for traditional Civil Rights rhetoric and, possibly, leadership -- in other words, "What has the Civil Rights movement done for me lately?"

Books

'How to Handle a Crowd' Goes to the Moderators

Anika Gupta's How to Handle a Crowd casts a long-overdue spotlight on the work that goes into making online communities enjoyable and rewarding.

Music

Regis' New LP Reaffirms His Gift for Grinding Industrial Terror

Regis' music often feels so distorted, so twisted out of shape, even the most human moments feel modular. Voices become indistinguishable from machines on Hidden in This Is the Light That You Miss.

Reviews

DMA's Go for BritElectroPop on 'The Glow'

Aussie Britpoppers the DMA's enlist Stuart Price to try their hand at electropop on The Glow. It's not their best look.

Film

On Infinity in Miranda July's 'Me and You and Everyone We Know'

In a strange kind of way, Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know is about two competing notions of "forever" in relation to love.

Music

Considering the Legacy of Deerhoof with Greg Saunier

Working in different cities, recording parts as MP3s, and stitching them together, Deerhoof once again show total disregard for the very concept of genre with their latest, Future Teenage Cave Artists.

Music

Joshua Ray Walker Is 'Glad You Made It'

Texas' Joshua Ray Walker creates songs on Glad You Made It that could have been on a rural roadhouse jukebox back in the 1950s. Their quotidian concerns sound as true now as they would have back then.

Music

100 gecs Remix Debut with Help From Fall Out Boy, Charli XCX and More

100 gecs' follow up their debut with a "remix album" stuffed with features, remixes, covers, and a couple of new recordings. But don't worry, it's just as blissfully difficult as their debut.

Television

What 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Taught Me About Unlearning Toxic Masculinity

When I first came out as trans, I desperately wanted acceptance and validation into the "male gender", and espoused negative beliefs toward my femininity. Avatar: The Last Airbender helped me transcend that.

Interviews

Nu Deco Ensemble and Kishi Bashi Remake "I Am the Antichrist to You" (premiere + interview)

Nu Deco Ensemble and Kishi Bashi team up for a gorgeous live performance of "I Am the Antichrist to You", which has been given an orchestral renovation.

Playlists

Rock 'n' Roll with Chinese Characteristics: Nirvana Behind the Great Wall

Like pretty much everywhere else in the pop music universe, China's developing rock scene changed after Nirvana. It's just that China's rockers didn't get the memo in 1991, nor would've known what to do with it, then.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.