It seems an age since the sumptuous ‘Shadow’ was released in 2015.
But since then, what has now become CHROMATICS’ signature song has been recognised by David Lynch himself and ended up in the revisit to ‘Twin Peaks’, which is fine vindication considering its source of inspiration.
However, while the long awaited album ‘Dear Tommy’ has yet to have a firm release date, the quartet of Ruth Radelet, Johnny Jewel, Adam Miller and Nat Walker have unleashed a new single entitled ‘Time Rider’.
Shrouded in vivid shades of blue and violet, the cerebral visual presentation of this captivating slice of chattering synthy darkness with a gloriously distorted solo focusses on Radelet’s stunning visage. Rather eerily, she asks the subject of her possibly misguided affection “Can I take your hand? I want to ride with you into the storm” as the imagery of a motorcycle propelled adventure provides an inter-dimensional bridge between the future and the past.
The release of ‘Time Rider’ coincides with the announcement of the first CHROMATICS live tour for over five years. Covering the United States and Canada, the show will feature tracks from their albums ‘Night Drive’, ‘Kill For Love’, ‘Cherry’ and ‘Dear Tommy’, accompanied by films directed by Johnny Jewel and mixed live by video artist Danny Perez.
Support will come from Montreal combo and Italians Do It Better label mates DESIRE while IN MIRRORS will join the tour from Vancouver onwards. TESS ROBY will appear in Montreal and Toronto.
‘Time Rider’ is released by Italians Do It Better via the usual digital outlets
CHROMATICS 2019 European tour includes:
Copenhagen Grey Hall (4th October), Stockholm Berns (5th October), Oslo Rockefeller Music Hall (7th October), Berlin Astra Kulturhaus (9th October), Vilnius Art Factory Loftas (11th October), Warsaw Praga Centrum (12th October), Vienna Arena (14th October), Prague MeetFactory (16th October), Munich Muffathalle (17th October), Cologne Carlswerk Victoria (19th October), Dublin Vicar Street (22nd October), Manchester Albert Hall (23rd October), Glasgow SWG3 (24th October), Bristol Anson Rooms (26th October), London Roundhouse (27th October), Antwerp Trix (29th October), Amsterdam Paradiso (30th October)
Brooding Parisian duo DOUBLE MIXTE have scored a major coup with their debut EP ‘Romance Noire’ by joining the Italians Do It Better family, home to CHROMATICS, GLASS CANDY and many others.
Produced and mixed by head honcho Johnny Jewel, ‘Romance Noire’ comprises of four tracks and three variations on the theme, tied together by the creative synergy of Clara Apolit and Thomas Maan.
On the ‘Romance Noire’ title track, Apolit offers her almost dispassionate but alluring Gallic prose over a metronomic beat, fat bursts of sequenced bass and aggressive swirling synths for a slice of decadent electronic dancefloor cool.
Within a billowing haze of Gauloises, Maan takes the lead monologue on the more moody and filmic ‘Arlette’, but a surprise comes with ‘November’ which sees Apolit not only vocalise in English but also in an almost incongruous folksy manner; despite the clash of styles, the combination of soprano and stabs of synth provides for an eerie soundtrack that is only missing the visuals.
A wonderful neo-ambient aural sculpture with dramatic synth arpeggios, ‘Arlette’ effectively closes the main ‘Romance Noire’ before wordless and beatless ‘On Film’ encores of the title track, as well as an instrumental take on ‘November’.
Recorded in 2017 but only released now, ‘Romance Noire’ showcases the varied index of possibilities emerging from DOUBLE MIXTE and it will be interesting to see where they head in the future.
A year after the ‘Twin Peaks‘ revival series took the ever expectant fans on a journey of weird and wonderful rediscovery of all things Lynchian, the man behind CHROMATICS, Johnny Jewel, surprises his audiences with a long player designed to paint the alternative backdrop and his story of the cult series.
Having performed in the Roadhouse during the very premiere of the cult show by Lynch, with ‘Shadow’ exactly a year ago, Jewel celebrates the anniversary with a twenty one track double album, which hopes to catch glimpses of the unnatural and superhuman.
“It’s been a year since CHROMATICS performed at the Roadhouse. With disintegrated memory through the haze of television snow, I wanted to share a glimpse behind the red curtain”, Jewel states, providing an auditory insight to the magical world of all things peculiar.
A multi-instrumentalist, Jewel runs his own label Italians do it Better on which he features many acts with his involvement. Be it SYMMETRY with Nat Walker, with whom he also forms DESIRE joined by Megan Louise, GLASS CANDY with Ida No, and of course Chromatics, accompanied by Ruth Radelet, Adam Miller and Nat Walker again.
Having only recently released his third opus, ‘Digital Rain’, the fan of all things analogue introduces an insight into the “sonic exploration of the sounds I was hearing in my nightmares.”
“I wanted to find my way out of the maze by focusing on beauty over fear — like the way the fractured sunrise looks in a dream.”
And indeed from ‘Requiem’ to ‘Infinity Room’, the sound manipulator culls six hours of recordings into bite size pieces of extraordinary vision of his own making.
Through the mercenary ‘Black Room’ with its fear inducing aura, into Laura Palmer’s dance-like bossa nova of ‘Loveless’, or the gloomily hopeful swish of ‘Red Curtain’, Jewel leads us into his very own Lynchian inspired universe, where ‘Tomorrow is Yesterday’ and ‘Red Door’ leads into ‘Purgatory’.
DESIRE join Jewel on ‘Saturday (Evening)’, its ethereal vocals and enthusiastically optimistic outlook with glimpses of Julee Cruise’s genteel approach to the vocal. The opening titles to ‘Shadow’ are here too, of course, reminiscing the Roadhouse stage bathed in cobalt, giving the perfect backdrop to hypnotising sounds and eerie sequences.
The rough sounds of ‘Caffeine’ gingerly induce the ‘Waking Up’ process, where delicate notions are crashed with feelings of dread and hopelessness. The dainty bells of ‘Breathless’ ring the graceful melody, forming beautifully, yet sad, laced with sinister feelings, yet forward looking future, to be exhausted into the fading ‘Infinity Room’, where there is no hope left.
Maybe the only hope is ‘Windswept’, with the Lynchian creation of Dougie Jones aka Agent Cooper’s awakening from a dazed mechanical dream, and the longing saxophone adding to the melancholy of his existence.
‘Themes for Television’ is a marvellous surprise from Johnny Jewel; a worthy celebration of his awe for Lynch and the showcase of what masterdom the sound manipulator can achieve with a minimal approach.
There’s nothing left to do but get lost in the difficult to resist capability of his musical designs… and perhaps dream of further ‘Twin Peaks’…
Following the remarkable success of her latest album, the American songstress, who loves all things Russian, comes back with a few “additions” to the stunningly personal record that was ‘Okovi’.
Nika Roza Danilova, also known as Nicole Hummel, is the artist behind the ZOLA JESUS project. Known and adored for her darker fuller synth productions, the intensity of her vocals and the poignant subjects of her lyrics, Danilova brought back the frosty aura to her recent offering. Dealing with the pain of her closest, a friend’s suicide attempts, mental illness and cancer, gave ZOLA JESUS a challenging canvas upon her Wisconsin homecoming. Shackled in Slavic “okovi”, the artist channelled her strengths and weaknesses, stressing that her work wasn’t up for critical scrutiny, as it remains of a personal and fragile nature.
The ‘Additions’ offer further remixes of four tracks from ‘Okovi’, with ‘Ash To Bone’ featuring Johnny Jewel of CHROMATICS’ cinematic take on the melancholic masterpiece, as well as Katie Gately’s dark version of the stunning ‘Siphon’. The black metal band WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM take on ‘Exhumed’, turning it into a punchy industrial anthem while lastly, Joanne Pollock twists ‘Soak’ into a parallel reality of tomorrow.
But the real treat arrives with the four brand new tracks, extending ‘Okovi’ into an even more epic enterprise. Gleaming with powerful gritty synth, ‘Vacant’ hits where least expected, mutilating all senses and destroying all predictions. It’s tribal, harsh, pushy and well above board.
The single ‘Bound’ continues the utilisation of found sounds and marries dance elements with the uniqueness of Danilova’s musical interpretations. Hauntingly eerie, purposefully messy and freakishly fresh, ‘Bound’ rips apart the boundaries. The more classically sounding ‘Pilot Light’ irons out the creases with multiple vocal interplays, the gentleness of straightforward melody and the uncertainty of its ending.
‘Bitten Wool’ meanders through Japanese bells, a raw vocal and the pure genius of a non-complicated melody, fitting with the concept of ‘Okovi’ in a seamless manner. As Danilova puts it: “The songs on ‘Additions’ traverse a vast amount of sonic ground, but taken together, they cohere remarkably well as an album, all while serving to enrich the experience of Okovi”
Danilova follows IAMX’s idea, where his 2015 ‘Metanoia’ was followed with an ‘Addendum’; something a little bit extra to complete the album journey.
The four new songs were indeed to be part of ‘Okovi’: “Each of them represents a snapshot of my journey in making the record, and are just as precious to me as the songs that made it onto the final track listing. The remixes are beloved in their own way, as most were born from organic circumstances, and have drawn the original songs into completely new atmospheres”
“My childhood was elegant homes, tree-lined streets, the milkman, building backyard forts, droning airplanes, blue skies, picket fences, green grass, cherry trees. Middle America as it’s supposed to be. But on the cherry tree there’s this pitch oozing out – some black, some yellow, and millions of red ants crawling all over it. I discovered that if one looks a little closer at this beautiful world, there are always red ants underneath. Because I grew up in a perfect world, other things were a contrast”.
And so we are invited to go in; into the mysteriously twisted, sickening at times, never straightforward world of David Lynch. One likes the arts and photography, another excels in music, or vocals, few make good films, while the rest write or paint; Lynch has done it all. Having introduced his unparalleled strangeness into American film making and being true to his own ideas, the “madman” (as Mel Brooks called him), even refused to direct ‘The Return Of The Jedi’, claiming that Lucas would do it better his way.
Meeting Angelo Badalamenti, while filming his hugely successful ‘Blue Velvet’, proved to be the start of a captivating musical relationship, which Lynch has proven to treasure till today.
Angelo Badalamenti, whose superlative musical understanding led to various working relationships with many a pop and rock band, with Pet Shop Boys, Orbital, Tim Booth, Anthrax, Marianne Faithful and others, all creating electrifying soundscapes with a little help of the virtuoso.
As Lynch’s films gained critical acclaim worldwide, his musical interests and collaborations grew in parallel.
Who directed a 2011 Duran Duran gig streamed live from Mayan Theater in LA? Lynch did…
Who collaborated with Interpol on ‘I Touch a Red Button Man’ animation? Lynch did…
Who directed Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Came Back Haunted’ video? Lynch did… (incidentally striking a further musical pact with Reznor)
Photo by Michel Delsol/Getty Images
As it often appears, happenstance creates the optimal conditions for working relationships, and that’s exactly what happened with Lynch and Cruise.
The ethereal sounding, dainty Julee may have never worked with the visionary, if it wasn’t for the fact that Lynch couldn’t use Tim Buckley’s ‘Song To The Siren’ covered by This Mortail Coil in a key scene of ‘Blue Velvet’. As an alternative, he commissioned Badalamenti to compose a song of similar feel, with lyrics by Lynch.
As someone had to sing ‘Mysteries Of Love’, Badalamenti recommended Cruise, known for her sublime voice. Recently the rather talented Kid Moxie re-visited the tune with Badalamenti , putting her own spin onto the Badalamenti/Lynch hit.
And so enter ‘Twin Peaks’; first aired in 1990 on ABC, later being taken off air due to dwindling popularity, the series was far more than the crime drama with a twist, expected by the fans of Lynch. Having teamed with Mark Frost, the master created a cult program, which is often described as one of the best TV series ever.
The story of the death of young and beautiful Laura Palmer, set in idyllic landscapes of rural Washington state, and the search for her murderer has, for years, evoked fear, lust, wonder and interest into the metaphysical and mystical.
Needless to say, a correct musical setting was necessary to depict the uncertainty, terror and weirdness of the events unfolding in, otherwise, quiet town of Twin Peaks.
A quiet town… at least that’s what one expects on the surface; but Twin Peaks has its own dark secrets. The horrors and wrongdoings that underline the death of Laura Palmer are palpable and Lynch made sure that his take on the human immorality is fully stamped on his characters.
Cruise was again chosen to perform a number of songs, and Badalamenti provided the musical mysticism, resulting in a multi-million selling soundtrack to the series, even with the tracks being largely instrumental.
But within those magical non word pieces, lay three acutely polished gems, all performed by Cruise. ‘Falling’, acting as the theme tune, must be, by far, one of the most recognised songs that go with any TV series.
Cruise further benefitted from the Lynch/Badalamenti collaboration by releasing her first album ‘Floating Into The Night’, which housed ‘Falling’, ‘Into The Night’ and ‘Nightingale’, all used in ‘Twin Peaks’.
‘Rocking Back Inside My Heart’ is one of the songs performed by Cruise live on stage at the Twin Peaks bar everyone gathers at, with most of the young female characters singing to it.
‘Falling’ has been so popular, that a number of artists decided to cover it, and further inspirations appeared by Apoptygma Berzerk, Bright Light Bright Light, The Joy Formidable, The Wedding Present and many others. The latest cover is, interestingly enough, performed by Chrysta Bell, who appears in the Twin Peaks revival series, and has been involved in working with Lynch for many years.
Joined by LA based music magician and celebrated producer John Fryer, Bell provides a synthy rendition, which is a true testament to the song’s longevity and prowess.
Lynch and Badalamenti also produced ‘Summer Kisses Winter Tears’, which, originally by Elvis Presley, was covered by Cruise and featured in ‘Until The End Of The World’ movie. A wonderfully presented come back of the 50s, with dreamy guitar and lazy piano, floating over the consciousness, not without an underlying uncertainty, however.
Chrysta Bell met Lynch in 1999 and the pair have collaborated since, with the master co-writing two of her albums. Her stunning song written with the director himself, ‘Polish Poem’, was featured in the closing scenes of ‘Inland Empire’. Not only is it hauntingly beautiful, but depicts the end of the movie in a sublime manner.
But Lynch sings himself too, oh yes! ‘Good Day Today’ is minimal electro, breaking into the popular culture, with heavily melodyned vocal pleading for the want of having “a good day today”. The lensman wants to be sent an angel, and complains of tiredness over a fast paced, catchy beat; all this happening against a back drop of a disturbingly Lynchian video.
Karen O joins the magician on ‘Pinky’s Dream’, which has been skilfully remixed by Trentemøller into an electronic burst of metallic beats and heavy bass. Together with ‘Good Day Today’, both taken from ‘Crazy Clown Time’, the first album by Lynch, the tracks have been described as having serious electro pop influences.
‘I’m Waiting Here’, performed by the Swedish singer and songwriter Lykke Li, found itself on Lynch’s second album ‘The Big Dream’. Featuring a video, which could have been taken from any of Lynch’s productions, the dreamy arrangement gets abruptly cut off by unexplained noise and the uncertainty is ushered, breaking off the waltzing style of the music. This is what David is about; nothing is ever perfectly straightforward.
He remixes too… ‘Evangeline’ by John Foxx and Jori Hulkkonen was masterfully adapted by the filmmaker. It’s gritty, dirty and fragmented: mechanical in texture. It feels like observing the intricate workings of a Swiss watch, while on blow, being surrounded by robots.
Moby has collaborated with the master for years too. This includes video directing, interviews and remixes. ‘Go’ was largely influenced by the Twin Peaks theme, which is sampled here, and it sold a staggering two million copies. And now Richard Melville Hall stars as the guitar player in Rebekah Del Rio’s band, performing live in Part 10 of ‘Twin Peaks’ Revival.
The Lynch collaborations are endlessly eclectic when it comes to genre and style. From ambient, pop, rock, via synth, classical and experimental. The working relationship with Marek Zebrowski, a Polish-American composer, also started during the production of ‘Inland Empire’, part of which was shot in Łódź. As both displayed interests in musical experimentation and improvisation, a concept evolved under the name of ‘Polish Night Music’.
More recently the hungry fans of the original ‘Twin Peaks’ series have been in for a treat. Lynch has always stressed that the story of Laura Palmer wasn’t complete and this year has seen the revival series hit the television screens. When Julee Cruise happily took to the stage in the original series, dazzling with a plethora of eerie, ethereal notes and semi-shy demeanour; the Revival brings plenty of musical surprises, inviting different performers to do their own sets in The Bang Bang Bar, a roadhouse in Twin Peaks. Each episode features a live performance from handpicked musicians, many of whom have a long history of association with the film master.
First off, Chromatics showcase ‘Shadow’, the video to which reminds of the Black Lodge’s red curtains. The Portland based band has undergone many a member change, but ‘Shadow’ certainly proves that the current set up is perfect. The track is Badalamenti dreamy, still bearing the electronic sounds of the now, and as an opener to the newest of the tales of the sleepy Washington town, it blends in nicely.
Au Revoir Simone from New York picks up the baton in Part 4, following The Cactus Blossoms. ‘Lark’ keeps in with the intangible atmosphere, leading through to Trouble’s ‘Snake Eyes’. An Americana rock and roll style, with added sexy saxophone and jazzy influences, this instrumental track leads into Part 6, with Sharon Van Etten’s ‘Tarifa’. With the copious amounts of folksy soothing day dream, the quirky vocal and bluesy elements, at times a la Fleetwood Mac, it’s a perfect summer evening track.
None other than Lynch’s old collaborator Trent Reznor comes back to mingle with the master yet again, after having worked on the score for ‘Lost Highway’, and Nine Inch Nails’ video for ‘Came Back Haunted’. This time taking the role of a goth band frontman, the leather clad Reznor and co, take to the Roadhouse stage to deliver ‘She’s Gone Away’.
As the first band to be actually introduced by an MC, NIN hauntingly induce their semi psychedelic, disturbingly mish-mashed track full of guitars over Reznor’s seductive male interceptions. Backing vocals are provided by Mrs Reznor, Marqueen Maandig.
Hudson Mohawke takes the DJ reins on ‘Human’ in Part 9, while Au Revoir Simone returns in the same episode with ‘A Violet Yet Flammable World’, which begins with a similar beat to Depeche Mode’s classic ‘Ice Machine’, to develop into an all girl extravaganza of voice and purely electronic sound, reminiscent of Marsheaux.
Rebekah Del Rio delivers memorable rendition of ‘No Stars’ written by Lynch. The Latin-American songstress has been a muse for the filmmaker for years, providing a cameo appearance in ‘Mulholland Drive’ to perform a Spanish a cappella performance of Roy Orbison’s ‘Crying’. In ‘Twin Peaks’, she is seen in a dress with a pattern reminiscent of the Black Lodge floor, ushers in a stunning vocal, both in English and Spanish. Yet another classic ‘Twin Peaks’ track.
What follows in Part 11, is a twist: a beautifully composed piano piece ‘Heartbreaking’ performed by Count Smokula.
Chromatics return in the next episode with instrumental ‘Saturday’, while the ominous number 13 brings the original series’ familiar James Marshall with ‘Just You’, which also appears on ‘Twin Peaks Music: Season Two Music and More’.
Folksy Lissie performs ‘Wild West’, just where David Bowie appears for the first time in Cole’s dream as Phillip Jeffries of ‘Fire Walk With Me’ movie.
Bowie moves back in in Episode 15, which is wrapped up by The Veils performing ‘Axolotl’. The London based indie band has been yet another of Lynch’s favourites chosen to perform live in Twin Peaks and they don’t disappoint with the quasi electronic, gripping tune, which injects a further dose of fear and uncertain weirdness so typical of Lynch’s disciples.
Number 16 showcases none other than Pearl Jam’s finest, Eddie Vedder, introduced as Edward Louis Severson with ‘Out Of Sand’. The fact that Vedder had been listed as a cast member well before the episode aired, created a stir and many fans eagerly awaited his performance at the Bang Bang Bar. Although the tune had been available prior to the premiere of Part 16, EV toned it down to acoustic guitar as the only instrument accompanying his hauntingly hungry voice.
Interestingly enough Vedder isn’t in the closing titles; Audrey Horne gets to perform ‘Audrey’s Dance’ once more, with a more sinister ending however.
The real treat wraps up Episode 17, with none other than Julee Cruise returning beautifully to finish the part, where Cooper and co go back to the past to try and save Laura Palmer. Julee’s second to none, ethereally magical voice on ‘The World Spins’ is an ultimate tribute to the whole of the series, with Number 18 (being the last) stripped off the, now familiar, musical end.
If anyone wanted answers in the Revival series, they’re probably banging their heads against the wall (or are getting tangled in the Black Lodge curtains), because more questions were introduced and the aura of weirdness has been intensified to almost mystical levels. Has the evil been eradicated? We don’t think so.
Have we got a happy ending? Certainly not so.
But isn’t that what Lynch is all about?
Riddles, riddles, riddles…
And what’s next for the genius? More music perhaps? Who knows, but with the wealth of experiences from the master over the years; musical or visual, haven’t we all been in for a treat?