David Lynch is undoubtedly best known for his directorial prowess, producing classics such as The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet and Mulholland Dr. For those who are familiar with his film work, this single will not surprise you. It brings much of his cinematic inclination towards the dark and dream-like into audio. For those who aren’t familiar: prepare to be disturbed.
The self-directed video for “Crazy Clown Time” is surreal to say the least. In Lynch’s own words it is “intense psychotic backyard craziness, fuelled by beer”. It essentially documents a ‘backyard’ party which starts out strange but, as the track progresses, descends in to all-out debauchery. Like many of his films, it conjures up a sense of the subversive and perverse underbelly of Americana. Chief characters include: the football player, the buxom-blonde glamour girl and the pyro-curious punk.
The track can certainly be defined as “modern blues”, as Lynch’s style has been previously been characterised on his official website. The song is driven by a slow, hypnotic blues beat, which creates a vortex that pulls you down in to the nightmare of both video and song. The drum beat is certainly the focal element of the music, but Lynch effectively sculpts the mood with the addition of groaning, cello-like instrumentation which results in a reasonably well-crafted track.
What brings the peculiarity of the song into sharp focus however, is the vocal. It is actually Lynch himself singing, and you periodically see peekaboo glimpses of him throughout the video. He is apparently well aware that his vocal ability leaves a little to be desired however, as the whole vocal element is refigured with reverb and filters to imitate what you would imagine a crazy clown’s singing voice to sound like. What’s more, the lyrics are more akin to a (disturbed) director’s commentary on the happenings of the video. Do not expect any kind of typical lyrical structure to carry the song along. Do expect: orgasmic noises, primal screaming and exclamations of “it’s crazy clown time!”
The musical elements of this song are compelling; dark and mildly unhinged, with instrumentation which effectively captures the mood. But the vocal (and I use that term loosely) will render this track unlistenable for some. For others it will become the freak show of their ipod – not seeing the light of day on a regular basis, but wheeled out to amuse, offend and enrapture unsuspecting friends and relatives. But I’m sure for many more this song will be regarded as David Lynch’s genius morphing into musical form. Undoubtedly he was not attempting to make music for the masses when he created this avant-garde monstrosity-come-masterpiece, and we would not expect him to. It really is a ‘love it or hate it’ offering which will polarize opinion and provoke reactions from utter revulsion to pure enchantment – just as Lynch would have wanted.
Stefanie Jane Williamson