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Archive for the ‘David Lynch’ Category

dec2006SOUNDTRACK: HILMAR ÖRN HILMARSSON & SIGUR RÒS-Angels in the Universe (2000).

angelsThis disc often gets placed in the Sigur Rós discography even though it really isn’t one of their records. It is a soundtrack to the film Angels in the Universe, and it is primarily music composed and conducted by Hilmarsson.  There are 17 tracks on the disc and he is responsible for 15 of them.  The remaining 2 are indeed by Sigur Rós, but if you have the “Ny batteri” single, you’ve already got the two songs.

The Hilmarsson tracks are large airy string pieces (I don’t know the film or anything about it, but it makes it seem rather sad). There are some tracks in the middle that deviate somewhat–some drums and occasional bass, but for the most part the music sounds like a string score to a film.  Pretty, but not exceptional.  At no time does Sigur Rós play with the other performers.

It’s the last two track s that are by Sigur Rós.  “Bíum bíum bambaló” is a slow piece that begins with mostly percussion.  Apparently it is an Icelandic lullaby and their version is quite different from a lullaby.  By the end of the song, when the whole band kicks in it rocks really hard and proves to be a great song.  The final track, “Dánarfregnir og jarðarfarir” was a theme used for death announcements on Icelandic radio (whatever that means).  I love the way it builds from a simple melody into a full rock band version and then back again.  It’s very dramatic.  These songs are both really enjoyable.  I like them a lot.  But I’d just stick with the single.

[READ: November 9, 2013] “The Secret Mainstream”

This article was in Bissell’s book Magic Hours, which I read a while ago.  I recognized some of the material in the article, but not all of it, which I find disconcerting that I forgot so much.

This article is (as the subtitle states) all about Werner Herzog, a filmmaker whose films I have never seen.  Herzog is notorious both for his films (he has made over 50) and for his behavior (some rumors of which are true, others are not).

Bissell wonders what historians would make of our civilization if they based their understanding on Herzog’s work.

He also goes through many of Herzog’s film, starting with Fata Morgana, Herzog’s first overt confounding of the feature film/documentary boundary.  It is neither narrative not strictly factual.  In truth, what Herzog does is make a hyperrealized truth.  For instance, in a film about a blind woman he created images and had her say they were images she remembered).  David Lynch is a fan of Herzog and you can see elements of Herzog in Lynch’s filams (so maybe the adjective Lynchian could be Herzogian.

What Bissell is saying (and Herzog confirms) is that Herzog is an artist, not a journalist.  He is also quite funny.  The story about the 32 pound rooster and the two foot horse is very very funny.

And while Herzog takes his films seriously he doesn’t really plan them.  He says he doesn’t anticipate what his next project will be and he also doesn’t spend a lot of time working on his films.  Woyzeck (1979) was shot in 18 days and edited in four.  He also took less than a month to make Grizzly Man (probably his best known recent film).

And yet for a film like Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972), a film about Spaniards searching for El Dorado and slowly going mad, Herzog’s crew and cast nearly went mad themselves.  Klaus Kinski, the lead actor has this to say in his autobiography: “I absolutely despise this murderous Herzog… Huge red ants should piss into his lying eyes, gobble up his balls, penetrate his asshole and eat his guts.”  Herzog himself says that he helped Kinski write that and many other anti-Herzog sections of that autobiography.

Bissell cites The White Diamond (2004) as one of Herzog’s best films (it is a documentary about Dr Graham Dorrington a researcher who wants to film Guyana from an experimental blimp.  Or The Great Ecstasy of the Woodcarver Steiner (1974) which is about competitive ski jumpers and shows jump after jump after jump landing badly. Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997) is about the escape of a pilot from a prison camp in 1966.  He has Dieter open and close his door three times before entering because “most people don’t realize how important it is to have the privilege that we have to be able to open and close the door.  That is the habit I got into and so be it.”  Which is moving and impressive and totally false.  Dieter doesn’t do that in real life.  But Dieter understood what Herzog was going for and believed in the truth of it even is it’s not strictly true.  Herzog calls it the ecstatic truth.

I don’t recall how I felt about Herzog after reading this the first time, but I am certainly thinking about watching a bunch of his films.

Some recommendations from the article:

  • Fata Morgana (1970)
  • Land of Silence and Darkness (1971)
  • Aguirre:  The Wrath of God (1972)
  • The Great Ecstasy of the Woodcarver Steiner (1974)
  • The Enigma of Kasper Hauser (1974)
  • Strozek (1976)
  • Woyzeck (1979)
  • Fitzcarraldo (1982)
  • Lessons of Darkness (1992)
  • Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997)
  • Grizzly Man (2004)
  • The White Diamond (2004)
  • Wild Blue Yonder (2005)
  • Rescue Dawn (2006)—which Herzog was working at the time of the article and which had a fairly large budget (for Herzog) of $10 million.  He even has name stars in it (Christian Bale, for one).  Bissell makes it sound very interesting, and certainly fascinating to watch being filmed.

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aug2013SOUNDTRACK: DAVID LYNCH-“Crazy Clown Time” (2012).

lynchIt’s hard for me to divorce this song from the video, because the video is so…David Lynch.  Even though it pictures the lyrics literally, there’s so many weird little Lynchisms that it’s an art unto itself.  Imagine David Lynch directing a rocking music video, but of a song he wrote.  Wow.  But I’m not going to talk about the video.

Musically, his song is a fairly simple construction–it’s primarily drums with some echoing guitars (with no real melody) and other crazy noises.  Over the rhythmic cacophony, we get David Lynch’s bizarre falsetto/spoken words.  Lyrically the song seems to be describing a party that gets pretty out of hand (and the video certainly shows that).

Lyrics include: Paulie he had a red shirt; Suzy, she ripped her shirt off completely; Petey set his hair on fire. And then the chorus: It was crazy clown time.  It was real fun.

Lynch’s voice sounds like an excited child (or demonic clown) as he talks about certain details of this party.  This is definitely a song that people will ask you “what are you listening to?”  There’s very few who will want to listen to this, although I’ve found that after three listens, it makes a kind of twisted sense.

If you dare, watch the NSFW video

[READ: September 10, 2013] Animal Instincts

I very rarely talk about reviews of TV shows–that’s a slipper slope if ever there was.  But I like Lorrie Moore and I like Jane Campion and I hadn’t heard about Campion’s show called Top of the Lake  Moore suggests is the best show on TV.  It aired on the Sundance Channel but was originally a BBC production.  Like Campions’ other works, it is set in New Zealand and the location and cinematography are part Deliverance, Road Warrior, Winter’s Bone and Hobbit.

The show sound very dark, but as soon as Moore started describing it I couldn’t help but think of Twin Peaks.  And indeed, there is a David Lynch nod within the show (girls say they are reading Blue Velvet for their book club). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PJ HARVEY-4-Track Demos (1993).

After the intensity of the Steve Albini produced Rid of Me, Harvey releases this collection of demos.  The amazing thing is that these versions actually seem more intense than the Albini version. Or if not more intense, then certainly more raw.

The songs definitely have an unfinished feel about them, and yet they only vary from the final version in polish (and Albini’s stamp).

“Rid of Me” is just as quiet/loud, and has those high-pitched (and scary) backing vocals.  Speaking of scary vocals, her lead screams in “Legs” are far scarier here than on Rid of Me–like really creepy.  (Which sort of undermines that idea that this was released because Rid of Me was too intense for fans).   “Snake” actually features even creepier vocals–Harvey must have had a field day making these sounds!

I admit that I like the finished version of “50 Ft Queenie” better,”but there’s something about this version of “Yuri-G” that I like better.

The disc also has some tracks unreleased elsewhere.  “Reeling” is an organ-propelled song of female strength with the nice lyric: “Robert DeNiro sit on my face.”  “Hardly Wait” is a slow grinder that is fairly quiet for this time period.  “M-Bike” is a cool angry rocker about a guy and his motorcycle which is one of my favorite tracks on the disc.

It’s a great companion to Rid of Me.

[READ: end of February to early March]  original articles that comprise A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again

As I mentioned last week, I decided to compare the articles in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again with the original publications to see what the differences were.  It quickly became obvious that there were a lot of additions to most of the articles, and it seems rather pointless (well, actually it seems exhausting and really outrageously time-consuming) to mention them all.  But what I did want to note was the things that are in the articles that have been removed from the book.   There’s not a lot but there are a few juicy tidbits (especially in the early articles) that are fun to note for anyone who read only the book and not the original articles.

My process for this was rather unthorough: I read the article and then right afterward I read the book.  If I noticed any changes, I made a note on the article version.  Many of them were surprisingly easy to note as DFW’s writing style (especially his idiosyncratic phrases) really stand out.  This is especially true in the Harper’s articles.  The academic ones were less notable, I believe, and I’m sure I missed a bunch.

I’m not sure in any way how these pieces were dealt with initially by the magazine or DFW.  I assume that DFW handed in the larger article (like we see in the book) and the magazine made suggested edits and DFW edited accordingly.  Then the book copies are probably the originals, bt which have also been updated in some way.

In most cases, it’s not really worth reading the original article, but I’m including links (thanks Howling Fantods), for the curious.

As for length, it’s hard to know exactly what the conversion from magazine article to book is.  The “Tornado Alley” tennis article is 8 pages (more like 4 pages when you take out the ads) and the book is 17.  Perhaps more accurately it seems like one Harper’s column = just under one book page.  I’ll try to figure out what the conversion is if I can.

One last note, whenever I say “article” I mean the original magazine version.  And obviously “book” means ASFTINDA. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PJ HARVEY-Rid of Me (1993).

For Rid of Me, PJ Harvey jumped to the big leagues (relatively) by enlisting maniac Steve Albini as a producer.  And he takes the rawness of Dry one step further into a sound that is both raw and sharp.  He really highlights the differences between the highs and lows, the louds and quiets.  And man, when this came out I loved it.

Like NIN’s “March of the Pigs,” the opening of “Rid Of Me” is so quiet that you have to crank up the song really loud.  And then it simply blasts out of the speakers after two quiet verses.

“Legs” turns Harvey’s moan into a voice of distress, really accentuating the hurt in her voice.  And Harvey hasn’t lightened up her attitudes since Dry, especially in the song “Dry” which has the wonderfully disparaging chorus: “You leave me dry.”

“Rub Til It Bleeds” is a simple song that opens with a few guitars and drums but in true Albini fashion it turns into a noisy rocker.  “Man Size Quartet” is a creepy string version of the later song “Man Size” (I’ll bet the two together would sound great).  And the wonderful “Me Jane” is a great mix of rocking guitars and crazy guitar skronk.   Albini really highlights the high-pitched (male) backing vocals, which add an element of creepiness that is very cool.

For me the highlight is “50 Foot Queenie”.  It just absolutely rocks the house from start to finish.  The song is amazing, from the powerful…well…everything including the amazing guitar solo.  “Snake” is a fast rocker (all of 90 seconds long) and “Ecstasy” is a song that feels wrung out, stretched to capacity, like they’ve got nothing left.

It’s not an easy record by any means, but it is very rewarding.  This is a CD that really calls for reamastering.  Because it is too quiet by half, and could really use–not a change in production–just an aural boost.

[READ: end of February and beginning of March] A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again

This is a collection of 7 essays that DFW wrote from 1990-1996.  Three were published in Harper’s, two in academic journals, one in Esquire and the last in Premiere.  I devoured this book when it came out (I had adored “Shipping Out” when it was published in Harper’s) and even saw DFW read in Boston (where he signed my copy!).

click to see larger

[Does anyone who was at the reading in Harvard Square…in the Brattle Theater I THINK…remember what excerpts he read?]

The epigram about these articles states: “The following essays have appeared previously (in somewhat different [and sometimes way shorter] forms:)”  It was the “way shorter” that intrigued me enough to check out the originals and compare them to the book versions.  Next week, I’ll be writing a post that compares the two versions, especially focusing on things that are in the articles but NOT in the book (WHA??).

But today I’m just taking about the book itself. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: Week of October 10, 2010] David Foster Wallace interviews

There will soon be a group read of Consider David Foster Wallace, a book of essays about, yes, David Foster Wallace.  In a sort of preparation for the group read, I decided to immerse myself in the available audio files online.

The David Foster Wallace Audio Project hosts quite a vast collection of audio files, including interviews, readings and eulogies.  Even the Howling Fantods points to it.

I started with the interviews.  They cover the period from Infinite Jest to Consider the Lobster.  For the most part, the interviews took place on various NPR stations.  There are not a lot of details given about the items on the site (which is the only flaw that I can see with the site), but you can more or less tell from the titles given what book is the cause for the interview.

I know that DFW was not a fan of interviews, yet I can’t help but be surprised at how few interviews actually seem to be extant (or at least preserved online).  You can see a list of all of the interviews on the site.  I’m listing and giving very brief notations for some of the longer interviews, but I just don’t have the time/inclination to go into great detail. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DANGER MOUSE AND SPARKLEHORSE present: Dark Night of the Soul (2010).

Seems like most things that Danger Mouse touches involve lawsuits.  I’m not entirely sure why this disc had such a hard time seeing the light of day.  But it is due for a proper release in July.  Although by now, surely everyone has obtained a copy of the music, so why would anyone give EMI any money for the disc (since they hid it away in the first place).

The name that is not listed above is David Lynch, who is an important contributor to the project.  He creates all the visuals (and the visuals in the book that was the original release format).  He also contributed vocals to two tracks on the CD.  (His vocals are weird and spacey, just like him…and if you remember his voice from Twin Peaks, just imagine Gordon singing (but with lots of effects).

The rest of the disc is jam packed with interesting singers: Wayne Coyne (from The Flaming Lips), Gruff Rhys (from Super Furry Animals), Jason Lytle (from Grandaddy) on my two favorite tracks, Julian Casablancas (from The Strokes), Black Francis, Iggy Pop, James Mercer (from The Shins), Nina Persson (from The Cardigans), Suzanne Vega, and Vic Chesnutt.

I’m not sure if Danger Mouse and Mark Linkous wrote the music already knowing who the singers were going to be, but musically the tracks work very well.  And yet, despite the different sounds by the different singers, the overall tone and mood of the disc is very consistent: processed and scratchy, melodies hidden deep under noises and effects.   Even the more “upbeat” songs (James Mercer, Nina Persson) are dark meanderings.

It took me a few listens before I really saw how good this album was.  On the surface, it’s a samey sounding disc.  But once you dig beneath, there’s some really great melodies, and it’s fascinating how well the songs stay unified yet reflect the individual singers.

EMI is going to have to pull out all the stops to make it a worthy purchase for those of us who have already found the disc.  Since The Lynch book was way overpriced for my purchase, (and they surely won’t include it with this CD), they need to include at least a few dozen Lynch photos (and more).  And with a list price of  $19 (NINETEEN!) and an Amazon price of $15, the disc should clean your house and improve your wireless connection too.

[READ: June 1, 2010] Bloom County Vol. 1

Boy, did I ever love Bloom County.  Back in high school I had more drawings of Opus and crew in my locker than anything else.  (I used to reproduce the cartoons by hand, I was never one of those “cut out of the paper” people.)  And so, there are tons of punch lines that I still remember twenty-five years later.

And yet, despite my fondness for the cartoon (and the fact that I owned (and read many times)) all of the collected books, I was amazed at how much of the early strips I had no memory of, at all.  True, some of the really early ones are here for the first time in collected form (according to an interview there are hundreds of comics in collected form for the first time in these volumes).   But those early 1980 comics…wha? (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BLUE ÖYSTER CULT-Tyranny and Mvtation (1973).

The album cover is similar to the first disc (a simple black and white), but this one adds a touch of red. Similarly, the music adds a touch of something that makes this disc leap beyond the foundation of their first.

The songs are heavier, the lyrics are weirder and yet the whole proceeding is catchier and groovier at the same time.

The first half of the disc is called The Black (going with the first song “The Red & The Black”).  It contains 4 great tracks.  The highlight is the improbably named “7 Screaming Diz-Busters” a 7 minute song that starts off with great heavy guitars, segues into a spooky/wild moog organ fueled freakout and ends with a denouement that is mellow and creepy.

But the other three songs rock hard too.  “The Red & the Black” is a super fast boogie which repeats some of the lyrics from the first disc: “Canadian mounted baby.  Police force at work.  Red and black. Its their color scheme.”  The tempo slows somewhat with “OD’d on Life Itself,” but it quickly comes back with “Hot Rails to Hell.”

Side two, The Red, opens with “Baby Ice Dog” with lyrics by Patti Smith (!).   The side is less heavy, with Allan Lanier’s piano coming to the front on this track (although there’s a delightfully cheesy wolf howl at the end). “Wings Wetted Down” foreshadows more familiar BOC with great choruses and harmonies, coupled with cool riffs.  And the final song “Mistress of the Salmon Salt (Quicklime Girl)” is yet another wonderfully oddly titled (and lyrically peculiar) song.

Even though the first disc is quite good, BOC totally hit their stride on this disc, showcasing their weirdness and their virtuosity in equal strength.  The recently remastered edition contains 4 live tracks that show just how much the band rocked in a live setting too.

[READ: Week of February 22, 2010] 2666 [pg 291-349]

During last week’s reading, I had replied to a post on Infinite Zombies in which I stated that I am a very credulous reader.  If I believe that the author is doing something worthwhile, I’m totally willing to suspend my disbelief about whatever the writer tells me.  Sometimes, when I’m done, or if I’m asked to be critical, I’ll look for flaws, but generally I like to go with the flow.  So, I’d been reading along uncritically primarily because I don’t exactly know what Bolaño is up to, (even 300 pages in) so I’m just going to enjoy the ride.  More on this in a moment.

This week’s reading continues Fate’s saga down in Santa Teresa.  His story request about reporting on the murders in Santa Teresa has been turned down.  And he thinks back to all of his other stories that have been rejected by the newspaper.  Like the Mohammedan Brotherhood.  Fate met them at a Pro-Palestine demonstration. They were marching under a banner of Osama bin Laden (shortly after 9/11/01).  They were so over the top that Fate felt the need to interview them. (more…)

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