Get a First Listen to David Lynch & Angelo Badalamenti’s Long-Lost Album, Thought Gang

All of David Lynch's movies, television shows, music videos, and commercials — and also his paintings, photographs, and comic strips — express a consistent, and consistently Lynchian, vision. But that vision depends on more than just the visual: the sonic has also played a vital part in its development at least since the nightmarishly intricate sound design of Lynch's 1977 debut feature Eraserhead. And just imagine how much impact later Lynch projects like Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, The Straight Story, and Mulholland Drive would have lost without the rich and often haunting scores of Angelo Badalamenti, a composer with whom Lynch has worked at seemingly every opportunity.

Lynch made his own official debut as a recording artist seven years ago with Crazy Clown Time, and this November he and Badalamenti will release their first collaborative album Thought Gang. According to its Bandcamp page, this "esoteric jazz side­ project of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti evolved from the seeds of Twin Peaks’ trademark slow cool jazz and blossomed into more experimental pastures: horizonless vistas of acid­-soaked free­jazz, laced with spoken word narratives and sprawling noisescapes." If that sounds good to you, you can get a first taste of the album from the track "Woodcutters From Fiery Ships" above.

The Thought Gang sessions happened 25 years ago, between the end of Twin Peaks' second season and the production of the Twin Peaks movie Fire Walk with Me. Out of those sessions came a quantity of music that Lynch describes as "sort of like jet-­fueled jazz in a weird way... but it’s all based on stories.” Two of those tracks, “A Real Indication” and “The Black Dog Runs at Night,” appeared on the soundtrack of the movie, and two others, "Frank 2000" and "Summer Night Noise," (as well as the instrumental mix of another, “Logic and Common Sense”) feature in Twin Peaks: The Return, which aired on Showtime last year. More connections to Lynch's other work surface in "Woodcutters From Fiery Ships," beginning with its title, which adorned a Lynch-themed, seemingly never-developed CD-ROM game twenty years ago.

Much of the Lynchian imagery that fills the song — talk-sung by Badalamenti himself, who, says the Bandcamp page, summoned "such a violent laughter­-fueled excitement from Lynch that he literally induced a hernia" — may also sound familiar. A character called Pete "saw the girl next door take off her clothes last night and walk through her house nude." At a diner, "he heard a man say that the doctors had cut him down his neck and into his chest." A "grey man with big ears lit a big cigar" and "smoke drifted over Pete's apple pie." Badalamenti at one point declares that "things aren't making sense. For instance, why is that boy bleeding from the mouth?" True fans will recognize that line as the title of one of Lynch's paintings. And so the grand Lynchian project continues, somehow getting both weirder and more coherent all the time.

Related Content:

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David Lynch’s New ‘Crazy Clown Time’ Video: Intense Psychotic Backyard Craziness (NSFW)

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Paul McCartney Breaks Down His Most Famous Songs and Answers Most-Asked Fan Questions in Two New Videos

Paul McCartney has played it safe for decades, relying on the brilliance of his songwriting and musicianship, which no one ever doubts and so he never has to prove. His songs usually fall into a formula familiar from Beatles’ days: “silly love songs,” writes Stephen Earlewine at Pitchfork, “mini-suites… polite political protests, and old-fashioned rockers.” But while the Beatles had each other, the experiments of George Martin, LSD, transcendental meditation, and a moment of perfect cultural kismet to twist and warp their music into all sorts of weird shapes, McCartney’s solo releases tend to stick to his established strengths, sometimes to the detriment of what can happen when he moves out of his comfort zone to get deeper and more vulnerable.

Yet as nearly every critic has so far noted of his newest album, Egypt Station—which he heavily promoted, for example, with an appearance on Carpool Karaoke and a “secret” show at Grand Central Station—McCartney lets listeners in on some surprising confessional darkness. The Nick Drake-like lyrics of opener “I Don’t Know” show him earnestly confronting aging, mortality, and depression, without any of the usual sunniness or comedic turns of phrase: “I got crows at my window/Dogs at my door/I don’t think I can take anymore.” The candid admission, Erlewine writes, “would be startling in any context, but what stings most is the tacit acknowledgment that 76-year-old McCartney realizes he’s nearing the end of his long, winding road.”

In interviews, like his latest with Rolling Stone, however, McCartney sounds as upbeat as ever. He describes sitting in Apple meetings after the breakup of the Beatles as “like seeing the death of your favorite pet,” but he also enthuses about his patched-up relationship with Yoko (“Now it’s like we’re mates”), love for his band—who have now been playing together longer than both the Beatles and Wings—and his pride in his musical legacy (“It’s a damn good job I did”). He sounds just as pleased to be onstage in his mid-70s as he was in his 20s—the genuine love of performing and engaging with fans hasn’t dulled one bit with age, just as his ability to write and sell hit records remains solid.

As for his time-tested formula, Erlewine comments, it only “makes the moments where Paul attempts something slightly new seem all the more apparent.” One new thing he’s gamely tried in recent years is making online videos for fans. A few years back, he dropped a few lessons showing how to play the bass and guitar parts on “Ever Present Past” from 2007’s Memory Almost Full. This year, McCartney’s fan service includes the two videos here. First at the top, he spends almost a half an hour discussing the best-known songs in his 60-year-career for GQ: “I Lost My Little Girl,” “Yesterday,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” “And I Love Her,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “A Day in the Life,” “Hey Jude,” “Helter Skelter,” “Blackbird,” “Let It Be,” “Hi Hi Hi,” “Here Today,” “Jet,” and Egypt Station’s “I Don’t Know.”

Above, McCartney accept’s Wired’s “autocomplete challenge,” answering the internet’s most searched questions about himself, such as “Why is Paul McCartney’s nickname ‘Macca’?” and “Why did Paul McCartney write ‘Let it Be’?” (Answers: “Cause I’m from Liverpool, and they abbreviate everything in Liverpool” and he was “a bit stressed out”—and a little high—and his mother came to him in a dream with the advice: “just let it be.”) Is there always more learn about Paul McCartney? Yes, apparently there is. But even when he repeats himself, he’s still great fun to watch.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

How the Grateful Dead’s “Wall of Sound”–a Monster, 600-Speaker Sound System–Changed Rock Concerts & Live Music Forever

There is a scene in Return of the Jedi when Luke Skywalker defeats the monstrous, man-eating Rancor, crushing its skull with a portullis, and we see the beast’s keeper, a portly shirtless gentleman in leather breeches and headgear, weeping over the loss of his beloved friend. I think of this scene when I read about a night in 1974 at San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom when Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart walked on the stage and found the band’s sound engineer Stan “Bear” Owsley standing in front of “a solid wall of over 600 speakers.”

As Enmore Audio tells it:

Tears streamed down his face and he whispered to the mass of wood, metal, and wiring, with the tenderness of any parent witnessing their child’s first recital, “I love you and you love me—how could you fail me?”

The story sums up Owsley’s total dedication to what became known as “The Wall of Sound,” a feat of technical engineering that “changed the way technicians thought about live engineering.” The "three-story behemoth... was free of all distortion... served as its own monitoring system and solved many, if not all of the technical problems that sound engineers faced at that time.” But, while it had required much trial and error and many refinements, it did not fail, as you’ll learn in the Polyphonic video above.

Live sound problems not only bedeviled engineers but bands and audiences as well. Throughout the sixties, rock concerts grew in size and scope, audiences grew larger and louder, yet amplification did not. Low-wattage guitar amps could hardly be heard over the sound of screaming fans. Without monitoring systems, bands could barely hear themselves play. This “noise crisis,” writes Motherboard, “confronted musicians who went electric at the height of the war in Vietnam," but it has been “routinely snuffed from the annals of modern music.”

In dramatic recreations of the period, drums and guitars boom and wail over the noise of stadium and festival crowds. For ears accustomed to the power of modern sound systems, the actual experience, by contrast, would have been underwhelming. Most Beatles fans know the band quit touring in 1966 because they couldn’t hear themselves over the audience. Things improved somewhat, but the Dead, “obsessed with their sound to compulsive degrees,” could not abide the noisy, feedback-laden, underpowered situation. Still, they weren’t about to give up playing live, and certainly not with Owsley on board.

"A Kentucky-born craftsman and former ballet dancer"—and a manufacturer and distributer of “mass quantities of high-grade LSD," whose profits financed the Dead for a time—Owsley applied his obsession with “sound as both a concept and a physical thing." To solve the noise crisis for the Dead, he first built an innovative sound system in 1973 (after serving a couple stints in prison for selling acid). The following year, he suggested putting the PA system behind the band, “a crazy idea at the time.”

His experiments in ‘74 evolved to include line arrays—“columns of speakers… designed to control the dispersion of sound across the frequency range”—noise-canceling microphones to clear up muddy vocals, six separate sound systems that could isolate eleven channels, and a quadraphonic encoder for the bass, “which took a signal,” Enmore notes, “from each string and projected it through its own set of speakers.” The massive Wall of Sound could not last long. It had to be streamlined into a far more manageable and cost-effective touring rig. All the same, Owsley and the band’s willingness take ideas and execution to extreme lengths changed live sound forever for the better.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” Played by 28 Trombone Players

28 trombone players got together and played Queen's beloved 1975 hit, "Bohemian Rhapsody." They call it, "Bonehemian Rhapsody." Enjoy.

Contributors in the video above include:

Jiggs Whigham - Glenn Miller, Stan Kenton

Denson Paul Pollard - Met Opera / Jacobs School of Music

Jennifer Wharton - Leader Bonegasm -

Thomas Hultén - Houston Grand Opera/Houston Ballet

Josiah Williams - Blast: The Music of Disney

Joseph L. Jefferson - Southeast Missouri State University -

Gerry Pagano - Symphony -

Javier Stuppard - Fresh2Def Horns/ Rath Artist

Peter Moore - London Symphony Orchestra

Marshall Gilkes - New Album!

Martin McCain - Texas State University -

Zsolt Szabo - Western Carolina University

Jeremy Wilson - Vanderbilt University -

Isabelle Lavoie - Thunder Bay Symphony

Amanda Stewart - St. Louis Symphony -

Dr. Natalie Mannix - UNT -

Zoltan Kiss - Mnzoil Brass -

Matyas Veer - Essener Philharmoniker Saatsoper Stuttgart -

Paul The Trombonist - The Internet -

Karen Marston - Mt San Antonio College/Omni Brass

Javier Nero - Jazz Soloist / Composer -

Dr. Deb Scott - Stephen F. Austin State University -

Tolga Akman - Lätzsch Performing Artist

Domenico Catalano - SlideSticks Trio/Basel Symphony/Haag Artist

José Milton Vieira - Orchestra Brazil

György Gyivicsan - Szeged Trombone Ensemble -

Brian Hecht - Atlanta Symphony -

Tom Waits Releases a Timely Cover of the Italian Anti-Fascist Anthem “Bella Ciao,” His First New Song in Two Years

La Complaine du Partisan,” a song about the French Resistance written in 1943 by Emmanuel d’Astier de la Vigerie with music by Anna Marly, was adapted into English as “The Partisan” by Hy Zaret, author of the Righteous Brother’s “Unchained Melody.” Covered by artists like Joan Baez and, most famously, Leonard Cohen, the song’s folk melody and melancholy lyricism have become so closely associated with Cohen that it has often been credited to him. Even Cohen himself remarked “I kind of re-introduced ["The Partisan"] into the world of popular music. I feel I wrote it, but I actually didn’t.”

Now another artist of Cohen’s stature, Tom Waits, may do the same for those who have never heard the World War II Italian anti-fascist song, “Bella Ciao,” which has been covered for decades in many languages and now appears as the first release on guitarist and composer Marc Ribot’s Songs of Resistance: 1942-2018, an album of protest music that comes out today and features guest vocals by Waits, Steve Earle, Meshell Ndegeocello, Justin Vivian Bond, and more. You can stream and buy the album here at Ribot’s Bandcamp page. Waits’ track is the first song he has released in two years, and it’s a helluva return.

The song comes from an old Italian folk ballad that was “revised and re-written during World War II for the Italian anti-fascist resistance fighters,” notes Sam Barsanti at The Onion’s A.V. Club. It has "since become an anthem of sorts for anyone looking to stick it to fascists.” Ribot and his collaborators fit the description. Waits' “Bella Ciao” was released with a video, directed by Jem Cohen, “that makes its parallels with modern life very explicit,” Barsanti writes, “pairing Waits’ vocals with footage of police and soldiers guarding barricades at anti-Trump protests. It may sound heavy-handed, but fuck it, nobody said fighting fascists had to be subtle.”

Subtle it isn’t, but neither is the banning of Muslim refugees, the kidnapping and detention in camps of hundreds of migrant children, the transfer of $169 million dollars from other programs—including FEMA and the Coast Guard during yet another fatal hurricane season—for even more camps and ICE raids, the lying denial that thousands were left to die in Puerto Rico last year, and so on and so on.

Other songs on the album draw from the U.S. civil rights movement and Mexican protest ballads. At his site, Ribot acknowledges the perennial problem of the protest song. “There’s a lot of contradiction in doing any kind of political music, how to act against something without becoming it, without resembling what you detest… I imagine we’ll make mistakes,” he avows, but says the stakes are too high not to speak out. “From the moment Donald Trump was elected,” he decided “I’m not going to play downtown scene Furtwangler to any orange-comb-over dictator wannabe.” (The reference is to Wilhelm Furtwängler, leading classical conductor in Germany under the Nazi regime.)

Like so many folk songs, “Bella Ciao” has a complex and murky history: the original version, a peasant work song, may have a Yiddish origin, or in any case—explains the blog Poemas del rio wang—emerged from a region “where Jews, Romanians, Rusyns, Gypsies, Ukranians, Hungarians, Italians, Russians, Slovakians, Polish, Czech, Armenians, [and] Taters lived together” and where “melodies did not remain the exclusive property of only one ethnic group.” This submerged background gives the re-written “Bella Ciao” an even deeper resonance with the anti-fascism of the 1940s and that of today.

See the video and hear Waits and Ribot’s haggard yet determined “Bella Ciao (Goodbye Beautiful)” at the top; hear Italian singer Giovanna Daffini’s recording above (hear her version of the original folk song here); read more about the song’s long history here; and read Waits’ lyrics, slightly revised from earlier versions to be even more explicitly anti-fascist, below. All proceeds from Ribot’s album will be donated to the Indivisible Project.

One fine morning
I woke up early
o bella ciao, bella ciao
bella ciao, ciao, ciao
One fine morning
I woke up early
to find the fascists at my door

Oh partigiano
take me with you
bella ciao, bella ciao
goodbye, beautiful
oh partigiano
please take me with you
I’m not afraid anymore

And if I die
a partigiano
bella ciao, bella ciao
goodbye, beautiful
Bury me
up on that mountain
beneath the shadow of the flower

So all the people
the people passing
bella ciao, bella ciao
goodbye, beautiful
So all the people
the people passing
will say: “What a beautiful flower”

This is the flower
of the partisan
bella ciao, bella ciao
bella ciao
this is the flower
of the partisan
who died for freedom

this is the flower
of the partisan
who died for freedom

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

94-Year-Old Stroke Survivor Plays Jazz Piano for the First Time in Years




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A post shared by Frederic Yonnet (@fredyonnet) on

French musician Fred Yonnet posted on Instagram an ever so poignant video. He writes: "Great day today - took my mentor Don Burrows to visit our old mate Julian Lee in Mossvale 🎺🎹. He hasn’t played piano for many years since his stroke - he turns 95 this year and we share the same birthday."

The scene that unfolds will make your day...

via @TedGioia

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Behold Mystical Photographs Taken Inside a Cello, Double Bass & Other Instruments

“If God had designed the orchestra,” remarks a character in Rick Moody’s Hotels of North America, “then the cello was His greatest accomplishment.” I couldn’t agree more. The cello sounds sublime, looks stately… even the word cello evokes regal poise and grace. If orchestral instruments were chess pieces, the cello would be queen: shapely and dignified, prime mover on the board, majestic in symphonies, quartets, chamber pop ensembles, post rock bands….

With all its many sonic and aesthetic charms, I didn’t imagine it was possible to love the cello more. Then I saw Romanian artist Adrian Borda’s magnificent photos taken from inside one. The photo above, Borda tells us at his Deviant Art page, was taken from inside “a very old French cello made in Napoleon's times.” It looks like the belly of the HMS Victory mated with the nave of Chartres Cathedral. The light descending through the f-holes seems of some divine origin.

Borda has also taken photos from inside an old double bass (above), as well as a guitar, sax, and piano. The stringed orchestral instruments, he says, yielded the best results. He was first inspired by a 2009 ad campaign for the Berliner Philharmoniker that “captured the insides of instruments,” writes Twisted Sifter, “revealing the hidden landscapes within.” Without any sense of how the art director created the images, Borda set about experimenting with methods of his own.

He was lucky enough to have a luthier friend who had a contrabass open for repairs. Later he traveled to Amiens, where he found the French cello, also open. “To achieve these shots,” Twisted Sifter notes, “Borda fit a Sony NEX-6 camera equipped with a Samyang 8mm fisheye lens inside the instrument and then used a smart remote so he could preview the workflow on his phone.” Depending on the angle and the play of light within the instrument, the photos can look eerie, somber, ominous, or angelic—mirroring the cello’s expressive range.

Borda gives the cello interior shot above the perfect title “A Long, Lonely Time….” Its play of smoke and light is ghostly noir. His photo below, of the inside of a saxophone, pulls us into a haunted, alien tunnel. If you want to know what’s on the other side, consider the strange surrealist worlds of Borda’s main gig as a surrealist painter of warped fantasies and nightmares. Unlike these photos, his paintings are full of lurid, violent color, but they are also filled with mysterious musical motifs. See more of Borda's interior instrument photos at Deviant Art and Twister Sifter.

via Twisted Sifter

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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