David Lynch - The Big Dream (2 stars)

Some pleasingly skronky weirdness but doesn't live up to director's distinctive cinematic soundworld

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David Lynch - The Big Dream

(Sunday Best)

Not only has David Lynch created some of the most iconic, imaginative and unsettling films of the past 30 years, but he’s also responsible for some of their most memorable soundtrack moments. Since drifting away from film after 2006’s stunning Inland Empire, he has increasingly channelled his energies into sound.

Spare, sombre, heavily reverbed and woozy, the default setting here is one that will be familiar to admirers of its creator’s cinematic universe. There’s little variation in these downbeat blues-based vignettes rendered digitally wobbly, but they’re fairly evocative in their own terms, and the infrequent eruptions of awkward slide guitar hint at some pleasingly skronky weirdness simmering underneath. However, what’s startling is how a director with such a vivid and unique visual and narrative imagination opts for the dustiest of chestnuts once he shifts idiom. Far too often, the lyrics settle into a dreary collage of stock blues phrases - all cold winds and hard rain and wishin’ wells – which sound both absurdly out of character and wearily stale. Matters are not improved by Lynch’s high, gruel-thin voice, passed through a bank of tinny effects that give it all the charisma of a dial-up modem. The high point, by quite some altitude, is bonus track ‘I’m Waiting Here’, entirely thanks to guest vocalist Lykke Li, who shows Lana del Rey how to carry off that Lynchian chanteuse schtick with great style and without sounding like a GAP advert.

Lynch’s film music (particularly for Fire Walk with Me) is superbly effective - but this is due to its complementary, reciprocal design, producing a perfect synthesis of sound and image. Devoid of his visual imagination as a creative spark, the music struggles to locate its purpose and instead finds only banalities. His distinctive cinematic soundworld gives Lynch both a lot to live up to and a solid basis from which to diversify - but The Big Dream manages neither.

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