1. The Lonely One - Duane Eddy
2. Lord Knows Best- Dirty Beaches
3. Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte- Lee Rosevere
4. City of Sleeping Dreams- David Rose
5. Blue Velvet Blues- Acid Mothers Temple
6. Cold- oOoOO
7. Preaching for Total Mass Suicide- Damaar
8. Solitude- NON
9. St. Louis Blues- Joe Kirby & His Orchestra
10. Stalkin' - Duane Eddy
11. Lutsen I- Connor Waldman
12. Lonesome Hunter- Timber Timbre
13. Anitra's Dance- Georges Montalba
14. Bouncer See Bouncer- Scott Walker
15. I Only Have Eyes for You- The Flamingos
16. Hotel- Dirty Beaches
17. Untitled 10- Indignant Senility
18. Where the Mission Bells Are Chiming (Down by the Sea)- Julia Holter
Download Interlude #15!
David Lynch's 1997 film Lost Highway came to theaters in my freshman year of high school, the perfect time for me to appreciate Lynch's weird brand of darkness. Much more important, however, was the film's soundtrack, packed full of the alternative and industrial stars I was just beginning to get into: Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, Marylin Manson, et al. It also featured a stellar cover of the classic Doc Pomus-penned drifters song "This Magic Moment" by Lou Reed, which happened to be the first Lou Reed song my innocent ears had ever encountered. In fact it was my favorite song on the album, perfect for an adolescent raised on 1950's rock (Buddy Holly & Chuck Berry in particular) but recently attuned to the guitar-distortion paroxysms of Nirvana and the aforementioned Pumpkins. Just around the corner would be the day someone handed me a cassette copy of the Holy Grail, The Velvet Underground and Nico.
Ok, David Lynch. Not only does he have one of the most immediately identifiable visual styles as a director and his own cinematic idiom, but there also exists something we can call a Lynchian sensibility in music, similar to but more expansive than the music he has put out himself. It includes Lynch's own predilection for the 1950's, from ice-cream chord changes to reverb-drenched 12-bar blues, heard not through the filter of nostalgia but estrangement and perversion. Then you have the work of composer Angelo Badalamenti, an ambient brew of jazz, French impressionism, dream pop, and sudden unnerving dissonances. Finally there are heavy rock elements that crop up from time to time. As Lynch is an artist who loves the manichaean approach of the chiaroscuro style, these low chugging guitars provide the earthly violence that serves as a counterpoint to the ethereality that often serves as a clear Lynchian signifier. And just when you think Lynch's soundtracks are all retro-revisionism, they suddenly sound very contemporary. The Lost Highway Soundtrack is a case in point, though this may be the most strictly commercial of his soundtracks. You really can't get a better earshot of the 1997 moment in alternative rock than a listen to this album.
The rules for putting together this mix were simple: the song must have a distinctly Lynchian flavor without ever having been used in a Lynch film. I also avoided any of Lynch's go-to artists, so no Roy Orbison (alas). Duane Eddy, however, was fair game (even though "elements" of an Eddy tune were on Lost Highway). The low guitar strings and the reverb are the essence of the proto-Lynchian, but I really sealed the deal when I slowed "The Lonely One" down a bit and added even more echo, until it sounded pretty close to the Twin Peaks theme.
Dirty Beaches were a no-brainer, the whole Badlands album really, but I had to cut myself off at two songs. Lee Rosevere's synthy take on French composer Maurice Ravel's "Pavane for a Dead Princess" is as close to Badalamenti's scores as I could find without the Bad-man himself. David Rose's "City of Sleeping Dreams" is an oddity for sure, which is exactly why it's here. If you like it, you need to check out the Strange Interludes compilation at Music for Maniacs. I think AMT's "Blue Velvet Blues" requires no explanation. oOoOO's Witch-housery provides a bit of that contemporarity I was speaking of earlier. The blackened death metal of Damaar was intended as a bit of sudden violence that often characterizes Lynch films, or a WTF-moment if you prefer, but Lynch is also no stranger to extreme metal. Remember Rammstein on Lost Highway? Remember Powermad in Wild at Heart?
Boyd Rice's NON provides some ethereality immediately thereafter (if you're listening on headphones, dig the way the percussion move across the channels throughout the song). Then we get some big band from Joe Kirby, with one of my favorite performances of that oldie-but-goodie, "St. Louis Blues". Another slowed-down-and-echoed Eddy number follows, and doesn't it just make you want to slow dance at One-Eyed Jacks, then I don't know what will. Connor Waldman is an interesting ambient artist who is directly influenced by David Lynch. I owe this discovery to Weed Temple, for whom I will soon be writing some reviews. (Stay tuned!) Timber Timbre was the first artist recommended to me when I mentioned to a friend that I was doing this mix, and though I liked them I really didn't think they had anything suitable until I heard the stunning "Lonely Hunter." Georges Montalba's "Anitra's Dance" is another piece of retro-exotica from the highly-recommended Strange Interludes. I felt that Scott Walker's beautiful creepiness exactly matched Lynch's, so I had to have him on here. "I Only Have Eyes for You" by the Flamingos is a sultry doo-wop number in the vein of "This Magic Moment." The untitled Indignant Senility piece comes from the excellent Indignant Senility plays Wagner, in which the Teutonic master is filtered through enough effects as to become unrecognizable, though still awesome.
El Fin: the moment I heard Julia Holter's "Where Mission Bells are Chiming," I knew it would be perfect to end this set, and so it does.