Released November 2011
The title alone should really give the discriminating listener an indication of the kind of warped, surreal sensibility one can expect from the director of Mulholland Drive in his first full-length album. Of course, David Lynch’s body of work is characterized by its evocative musical soundscapes, much of it provided by composer extraordinaire, Angelo Badalamenti, that work to heighten the pervasive mood of confusion and underlying darkness that Lynch is best known for. It makes sense that the American auteur would extend his interests to music, for much of Crazy Clown Time evokes the same visceral fragmentation of the (post)modern world that permeate his visual output.
The most prominent feature of Crazy Clown Time is Lynch’s own voice, a high-pitched and often wheezy instrument that is frequently filtered through a vocoder and various other electronic devices. While “Good Day Today” occupies a kind of pseudo-Mobyish intelligent dance music sphere, the majority of this album is immersed with stilted, uneasy blues rhythms, bare-bones guitars soaked in tremolo and echo and textural keyboards, all of which suggest melodies more so than delivering them. Lynch’s lyrics are exercises in deliberate simplicity — banality even — whose unnerving character emerges through Lynch’s delivery. (Would “I know you fucked Al/He’s supposed to be my pal” hold the same disturbing weight to it if Lynch didn’t sound like a resident of the Black Lodge?) Elsewhere, Karen O.’s exhilarating performance on “Pinky’s Dream” gives the song an evocative edge that is lacking from much of the album.
While there is much to appreciate and fascinate over in Crazy Clown Time, whether Lynch is ruminating over a football game with his mouth stuffed or elaborating on positive thinking and oral hygiene through the voice of a robot, one gets the sense that there is something lacking in Lynch’s music.
Though Lynch is frequently masterful, his unconventional and often fragmented handling of plot in his films, his preoccupation with atmosphere over form proves a slight handicap for him concerning his music as well. The main issue with Crazy Clown Time is that the music itself is often more interesting than it is memorable. With a more capable singer throughout, such as Karen O., his blues-from-the-darkest-corner-of-your-mind would prove more gripping, and perhaps accessible.
– Zachary Anderson