Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Wire Reviews "Blue Velvet Revisited"

Tuxedomoon & Cult With No Name Blue Velvet Revisited Crammed CD/LP

There's a number of unusual elements to Blue Velvet Revisited, volume 42 in Crammed's Made To Measure series of instrumental albums, not least the fact that it was commissioned before the completion of the film, a documentary of the same name by German film maker Peter Braatz (aka Harry Rag). In 1985, after years of correspondence with David Lynch, Braatz was invited to document the making of Blue Velvet. This culminated in 1988 with the TV documentary No Frank in Lumberton, which benefited from access to more than a thousand photos and endless hours of unrestricted, behind the scenes footage from Lynch's film. The impending 30th anniversary of the picture provided the occassion for Braatz to recompile the material material, this time in a feature-length documentary film that's due to be screened later this year.

Lynch and Braatz both suffered with a desperate case of temp track love, as it's called in the industry. It broke Lynch's heart that he couldn't use This Mortal Coil's version of Tim Buckley's "Song To The Siren", but this obstacle would lead to his longstanding collaboration with Angelo Badalamenti. For Braatz, UK electronic balladeers Cult With No Name's 2012 track "As Below" captured his heart. He needed music with this exact feel, and more of it, and unlike Lynch, he got his wish.

Braatz approached Erik Stein and Jon Boux of Cult With No Name to soundtrack the project, adamant that the music would not be influenced by Badalamenti, and that the score would dictate the film and not the other way round. When he discovered that Luc Van Lieshout of San Francisco post-punk/new wave outfit Tuxedomoon had played the trumpet part on "As Below", they struck upon the idea of commissioning both groups to do the soundtrack, with both recording separately, and CWNN editing and producing the overall score.

Combining their talents was a shrewd move. The two create a hybrid sound, faithful to their own work yet unique to the project. Tracks like "Frank" and "So Fucking Suave" make a nod to the soft and seedy jazz typical of Twin Peaks. The latter takes you even further into the Lynch canon with a subtle hint of David's Bowie's "I'm Deranged" from Lost Highway. "Do It For Van Gogh" and "Now It's Dark" hint at the scores of Morricone and Herrmann. There are notable performances from Van Lieshout on trumpet and Blaine L Reininger on violin, in particular the final track "Don", where both performances feel in tune with the work of both groups yet perfectly positioned within the context of the soundtrack. Nestled among this tapestry of contextual nods is "Lincoln St", a single track by John Foxx. It feels out of place yet marks a change in tone towards darker, more dynamic territory.

The Blue Velvet Revisited soundtrack politely differentiates itself from Lynch's film, even though there's a whisper of Badalamenti's beloved synth sound that admirers will pick up on. It's evocative, dreamy, dark and dynamic, and adds another chapter to the mysteriously connected cultural and musical elements surrounding the cult of Blue Velvet. Lara C Cory

THE WIRE September 2015 Lara C Cory

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