Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Thomas Truax- 'Songs From The Films Of David Lynch' (SL Records 4/5/2009)

If ever there was a perfect representation of the term 'auteur', David Lynch is it. This ain't no movie magazine, so there shall be no exploration of his disturbing trawls through the human psyche. Needless to say, music often plays an important role within the Lynchian mode. An album of covers of the most important tracks sounds like a good idea, no?

Early evidence suggests the answer is yes. 'Twin Peaks (Falling)' is a pretty version of the classic theme tune, sounding not unlike something Wilco might release. Dirty blues song 'Baby Please Don't Go' does well everything a blues song does. You know what a blues song does. I know what a blues song does. Truax does not reinvent the blues. This is all we need say.

The scattered source material often leads to the flow feeling disjointed. The transition between 'Blue Velvet' and 'I'm Deranged', for one, doesn't quite work. The ending to the latter is particularly abrupt, petering out and simply stopping with a guitar flourish. It sounds like Thomas was supposed to finish it, but was busy trying to pondering what happened in Mulholland Drive.

The Lynchian malaise is prevalent throughout, with 'Audrey's Dance' bearing his trademark unease with a scowl. The meandering bassline and discordant guitars are reminiscent of a backwater diner where the jukebox stops when a stranger walks in. Truax certainly gets laurel garlands and golden plaudits for translating the decaying malodourous feel into his music, without the accompanying visuals.

Many of the songs here don't seem massively reworked. Music didn't need yet another cover of 'Wicked Game', particularly one which does so little to the source material. HIM, REM, Giant Drag, The Royal We, JJ72. Did Truax really need to add his name to the list? Chris Isaak can already swim round his bank Scrooge McDuck-style. Truax's is nice, but so is the original. Only 'Black Tambourine' bucks this trend, being altered into a minimalist strum.

At the end we ask the question- would David Lynch approve? As someone who has been so innovative, so 'out there' (sicks in mouth) as he has, an album of covers isn't going to win his favour. The songs do capture the mood of the movies successfully, and are competently put together. But that sentence is void for two reasons. Number one, why listen to the songs when you can watch the films? They're much better. And number two, since when did competence make something worth listening to? Civil servants are competent. Musicians need something more. And that indefinable 'more' is unfortunately what Truax needs.

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