Mashed in Plastic: David Lynch
(that's not the album cover, but could have been)
David Lynch, besides being the greatest American director working today, is also the most important and influential sound designer in film in the last 30 years. Fittingly, he also gets an incredibly well thought out and layered retrospective via a mash-up album. Where most match-ups fail is in context; you could have Amy Winehouse and The Stooges mashed together, but why? Mashed in plastic is an aural journey through the dense and gorgeous body of Lynch's work combining dialogue from his films, film scores, songs used prominently in his films, and music from artists with connections with Lynch. One also realizes how Angelo Badalamenti is one of the great composers.
Years ago Lynch took Julie Cruse's music and created Industrial Symphony #1, a mess of a stage show trying to combine her music into some sort of narrative that Lynch acknowledges was troubled from the start. This a similar idea, only more deeply realized and thoroughly coherent.
It's also rare that in this digital age that any album works better as a whole. That an album of mashups, a major symptom of the death of the album, works so effectively together as an album is outstanding. Sure each song sonically bridges to each other, but they also mesh and juxtapose in context with each other and Lynch's work and themes.
The effect is at times surprisingly powerful. A work so layered and disjointed that Lynch himself would be proud. There are obviously differing levels of talent at work here, and the middle of the album is far superior to its bookends.
The album really gets going with "Heaven's Drive In" a gorgeous mix of "The Lady in the Radiator song" with the title music from Mulholland dr. and vocal portions from Swing Low Sweet Chariot. This not only sounds incredible but works very well in conveying the overall mood of the works used and referenced.
Next is a mix of I'm Deranged with Tori Amos. The reason for Amos being used here was that she's an anagram for satori om...works for me, as does the song. When her vocals are mixed with those of Bowie's during the chorus, it sounds as if they were recorded together.
The following track, Garbage's "Stupid Girl," to music from Lost Highway, and sounds from the incredible cocktail party scene, works very well. This song may not have been in a Lynch film, but it might as well have, and Shirley Manson seems to fit the juxtaposition of innocence and violence so central to Lynch.
"I'll Be There In Twin Peaks" is one highlight of this project. A pleasantly gorgeous melding of I'll Be There with the Love Theme from Twin Peaks. The innocence of Michael Jackson's voice and the connotations presented by the music works on so many levels.
"The Elephant Connection" is another highlight, a combination of a version of The Rainbow connection with the haunting theme from The Elephant man. Other highlights include a mix of Don't go with Wicked Games, and Violent Heart mixed with the theme from Wild at Heart.
Surprisingly no one used any Sting on the album, though thankfully there's no Toto here, and there's only one excerpt from his latest film INLAND EMPIRE which was a missed opportunity, unless the film wasn't out when the film was in its stages of creation.
While there are some misses on this album, in its sheer audacity, its commitment to the material it uses and references, it goes beyond the regular "oh, that's kinda cool," response to a mashup album to the point of being bona-fide music as art form. A must for any Lynch fan, and hopefully a prototype that Mashers will follow. Even when the songs don't work, its sonic vision creates a unique and compelling experience, and that is quite an achievement for any sort of album.